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Issue No. 412 April 2017

Water training gets real

Police staff need to consider all options when faced with water hazards - such as the 2015 floods in Northland.

Water training for Police recruits is getting more realistic, with a greater focus on individuals understanding their abilities and being able to make informed decisions about the risks of water-related emergencies.

Instead of recruits having to obtain a swimming certificate before attending the RNZPC, their swimming abilities will be evaluated during the first week of initial training.

Subsequent water-based training will focus on ‘real-life’ scenarios and a risk-management approach.

“Earning a certificate in a heated pool doesn’t prepare a person for the reality of the emergencies they may face in New Zealand’s cold and fast-moving waters,” says DCE People Kaye Ryan.

“We also know water proficiency testing in New Zealand is not regulated, so every applicant with a certificate is likely to have a different ability level.

“We need to ensure our staff understand and can properly assess the risks and all available responses. There may be an expectation that they jump in but that might be the worst option for all involved. There may be a better way.

“We’re stressing to applicants that it’s still really important that they build up confidence in the water, so they need to keep practising before they get to RNZPC.”

Under the change, which came in on 31 March, applicants assess and report on their swimming ability during the selection process.

Enhanced water-based training activities will teach hazards presented by moving and dark water, ocean movement, rips and currents, risks relating to submerged vehicles and the performance of a police uniform and kit when immersed.

“Our recruits will leave RNZPC with an advanced understanding of all water-related hazards they may come across so they can be safe and feel safe when making decisions to act in these environments,” says Kaye.

Swimming will remain a key skill for a number of specialist groups.

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