Philippine Red Cross: Water Safety and Rescue Training

I grew up no more than 50steps away from the sea, somewhere in a fishing village in Bicol Region. I remember playing, and by that I mean swimming by the pier with two other kids, when I was around 8years old.  Pier structures are usually built on sea shelves that are deep enough to accomodate huge water vessels. I remember no fear wading in those deep seawater at that young age.

Fast forward to college, I used to go to dive training pools with friends for recreational swimming. Someone have passes to this exclusive, members only pool in Intramuros with a mean looking dive board such that the pool is at least 25feet (if i remember it correctly) at one end. My friends and I would climb up and jump by turn at the dive board towards the deep end of the pool. I enjoy the water so much.

Then somewhere along the way, I don't remember when, I was suddenly too careful when I'm in water. That's an understatement, I became a bit afraid of deep water. My self confidence when I'm in the water turns liquid and I panic when someone touches me. It took me a while to accept that I have some sort of mild hydrophobia. When I accepted that fact, I knew I have to do something about gaining back my confidence in water. 

I returned home from Sabah, Malaysia in March, displaced by a growing conflict between the Malaysians and one clan of IP's from Mindanao. Others would sulk at the thought of returning home, uncertain when the conflict will end so everybody could go back to work, but I saw that window to be the perfect time to enroll in a swim class. I scoured the internet for quality but affordable swimming organization to enroll at and found that most courses are too short for the amount of money they charge. Then I remembered Philippine Red Cross (PRC) conducts swim classes every summer. Two swim instructor friend from different PRC chapter came into mind and Manila Chapter seems like the best choice. Thus began my two-weeks program to learn swimming again to be comfortable in water again.
PRC Water Safety and Rescue Course

PRC's summer course package is bulked with other trainings such as Basic Life Support, Standart First Aid, Disaster Management and many more on top of the Water Safety and Rescue (WaSAR) Course intended for Medical and Non-medical personnel. The basic swimming course I was aiming for is under the WaSAR training. When class started, we were tasked to swim from end to end to assess our swimming capability so the instructors can rank us if we are under the basic swimming or the advanced WaSAR. I don't know what I did but I got ranked as an intermediate swimmer, so i have to join the WaSAR group. What did I get myself into.. WaSAR is a mandatory training for water safety practitioners such as lifeguards. Aside from PRC, Navy and Philippine Air Force (505th Division) also have a similar training, and I heard tougher ones.

Everyday for two weeks around 1:30PM we did our stretching exercises under the scorching sun while one person holds a water hose and sprinkles us with water. Then we would line up at the deep end side of the pool for the swimming drills. We would swim from end to end of the 50meter pool several times using different dive and swim stroke combination. But what I dreaded most was treading. We were made to tread for more than an hour which seemed like a lifetime to me. I can manage to do a combination of sculling and treading for less than an hour maybe, but when they make us raise our hand to do a thumbs up, I sink  within seconds. Then there's this bucket filled with water that's passed around while treading. My legs are not strong enough and I am not doing the eggbeater quite right. My favorite part of the day was the lecture time, because it means REST and the rewarding photo ops in between. 
PRC MSSI Batch 59 Water Safety and Rescue Training

Like any other training course, there has to be a finale, else why are we doing all of this. The finale as it turns out is a One Mile Swim in jelly-fish populated open water in Nasugbu, Batangas. Just perfect!!


Photo Credit: Sancho D. Mark

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I'd love to hear from you.. Please share your experiences too.. ^_^

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