BIG WAVE RISK ASSESSMENT GROUP (BWRAG) LAUNCHES ONLINE SURF SAFETY COURSE
The Big Wave Risk Assessment Group (BWRAG) has finally launched its first-ever virtual course–the Surf Responder Online Course. BWRAG’s Online Course delivers itsimpactful in-person summit experience in a virtual format for students to access at their own pace rightat home. Geared towards surfers and ocean athletes of all levels and abilities, the Online Course sharesessential lifesaving skills and tactics from the world’s most experienced and accomplished watermenand waterwomen.
Since BWRAG’s first CPR training in big-wave surfer Kohl Christensen’s barn nearly 10 years ago, BWRAG’s programming has continued to evolve and become more dynamic and accessible to theeveryday surfer. While the organization’s origins started in the big-wave surf community, it has evolved to serving the global ocean-going community at large.
Prior to the global pandemic, BWRAGʻs in-person summits offered training in its proprietary ocean riskmanagement curriculum, CPR certification, first-aid/medical interventions, mindful breathing and energymanagement, emergency action planning, spot analysis of surf breaks, forecasting, safety equipment review, and in-ocean water rescue (by person, surfboard, and jetski).
2020 was heralded as the “breakout” year for the organization, with an ambitious 18-summit scheduleplanned. BWRAG had scheduled in-person summits for Hawaiʻi, California, North Carolina, Florida,Australia, Puerto Rico, Chile, Peru, Tofino, and Portugal, with plans to extend offerings in Asia and Africain the upcoming years. With its 2020 schedule completely capsized by the global COVID-19 pandemic,BWRAG was forced to pivot and design a new way to deliver its critical life-saving training and riskmanagement skills to the global surf community. This led to the creation of the Surf Responder Online Course.
The Surf Responder Online Course is broken down into eight modules, each of which contains multiplevideo chapters filled with the essential knowledge needed to be prepared to save one’s own life oranother’s. Taught by BWRAG’s elite instructor team and special guests, the Surf Responder OnlineCourse covers the same comprehensive curriculum as the in-person course, and features closed
captioning in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese. Individuals who are interested in specificmodules may purchase any of the eight modules a la carte.Those who wish to purchase a Patagonia PSIvest must complete the entire Surf Responder Online Course (all eight modules). The modules include the following topics:
Ocean Risk Management
This module presents students with BWRAG’s core curriculum component – risk managementtheory. Students will learn effective approaches to identifying and mitigating risk and cultivatethe same decision-making process utilized by military units and first-responder agencies aroundthe world.
Instructor: Oceanside Harbor Police Captain and Big-Wave Boat Safety Supervisor Jon Hoover
This module teaches students high-quality and high-performance CPR and AED techniquestaught specifically for ocean/beach rescue situations, with a curriculum created by our long-timepartners and top-rated CPR trainers at the AED Institute of Hawaii.
Instructor: AED Institute founder and CPR authority Pam Foster, with special cameos byprofessional surfer and Positive Vibe Warriors Founder Dane Gudauskas, Vans Surf AmateurTeam Rider Pua DeSoto and Kaiser Auberlan, Positive Vibe Warriors scholarship recipient andBWRAG Surf Responder graduate Jake Maki, and BWRAG Surf Responder graduate KeānuenueDeSoto.
First Aid: Bleeding Control, Breaks, Dislocations, and C-Spine Injuries
This module provides students with examples of hands-on training in administering aid to adrowning victim, bleeding control, joint immobilization, spinal injury extrication, and more. Itfocuses on the most common injuries and trauma scenarios seen in surf lineups.
Instructor: Career paramedic and professional big-wave surfer Andrea Moller, with a specialcameo by surf photographer and BWRAG Lifesaver Award Recipient Christa Funk.
Mindful Breathing & Energy Management
This module teaches students the theory and physiology of breath-hold along with practicalbreathing exercises that students can incorporate into their everyday surf preparation training.The module also focuses on how to develop the mental training necessary to stay calm andcomposed in high-stress situations, and how to conserve energy underwater in surf scenarios.
Instructor: Professional big-wave surfer Greg Long
Paddling out to a break is one thing. Understanding how to navigate its dangers and consider itscomposition when responding to an emergency situation is another. This module will showstudents how to break down a surf break by identifying its hazards, assessing the risk factors,and implementing controls to increase the chances of successful outcomes in dangeroussituations.
Instructors: Preeminent water safety expert Brian Keaulana and professional big-wave surferKohl Christensen, with special cameos by Tavarua Island Resort Managing Director JonRoseman, BWRAG Instructor Liam Wilmott, and North Shore Lifeguard Andrew Logreco.
Emergency Action Planning
Taking that long-anticipated surf trip? This module will teach students how to create a robustsafety plan for any surf break in the world. Students will learn the process for building a safetyteam, including creating a checklist of critical preparation steps to complete before your surf trip(e.g., recording locations of the nearest hospitals, contact information for rescue and emergencyagencies, response time of emergency rescue services, etc.). Emergency action plans are anindispensable safety tool that seafaring surfers should never leave home without.
Instructor: Oceanside Harbor Police Captain and Big-Wave Boat Safety Supervisor Jon Hoover
A well-prepared surfer is a well-equipped surfer. This module will highlight essentialequipment to add to your safety quiver depending on the context of your surf mission, includingfirst-aid kits, location beacons, heavy-duty surf leashes, jet ski accessories, and much more. Themodule also provides an in-depth review of both floatation technology (i.e., impact vests andsuits) as well as inflation vests, including Patagonia’s PSI vest.
Instructors: Professional big-wave surfer Mark Healey and Patagonia’s Research and ProductDeveloper Andrew Reinhert
Water Rescue: Swim, Surfboard, and Jetski Rescues
Are you prepared to save your fellow surfer? This module will instruct students how to conductunassisted swim rescues, surfboard rescues, one- and two-person jet ski rescues of a consciousand unconscious victim, C-Spine extrication of a victim from ocean to beach, and importantin-water communication techniques to employ during an emergency situation.
Instructors: Preeminent water safety expert Brian Keaulana, professional big-wave surfer KohlChristensen, professional big-wave surfer Mark Healey, and Ocean Risk Specialist Pat ChongTim.
With the support of Kona Brewing Co.. BWRAG will host live virtual Q&A “Pau Hau Sessions” for theFirst Aid, Mindful Breathing & Energy Management, Safety Equipment, and Water Rescue modules.During each Pau Hana Session, registered course participants will have the opportunity to interact with the instructors and ask questions about the module content. The first Pau Hana Session is set for Tuesday, April 26 with big-wave surfer, paramedic, and BWRAG First-Aid Instructor Andrea Moller. Pau Hana Session event dates for the other modules will be announced at a later date.
The response to the Surf Responder Online Course has been tremendous thus far, with studentsregistered from over 20 countries and 30 U.S. states. The Surf Responder Online Course could not bepossible without the support of Patagonia, North American Rescue, Kona Brewing Company, GeoBlue,Vans, Juneshine, Tavarua Island Resort, Kids 4 CPR, Ohana Construction, and the generous support of private donors.
To further increase the impact of its mission to save lives in the lineup, BWRAG is currently working withits global partners to develop a line of products and equipment for those who wish to enhance theirocean safety toolboxes. In the next several weeks, BWRAG will release two versions of its SurfResponder First-Aid Kits, which were developed in partnership with North American Rescue and Patagonia.
Registration for the Surf Responder Online Course is now open. For more information about the Online Course and how to register, please visit the www.bwrag.com. Stay up-to-date on upcoming BWRAG training opportunities, in-person summits, and exclusive products by visiting www.bwrag.com and by following BWRAG on Instagram (@b.w.r.a.g) and Facebook.
The Big Wave Risk Assessment Group (BWRAG) exists to educate and train surfers in ocean risk management, safety protocols, equipment, technology, and skills training to maximize safe practices and to elevate the safety of those with whom they share the surf lineup. Led by Kohl Christensen, Danilo Couto, and Pat Chong Tim, under the mentorship and inspiration of elite water-safety technician and revered Hawaiian waterman Brian Keaulana, BWRAG’s mission is to share progress and key learnings with members of the surf industry to continue to advance awareness, best practices, and technological advancement. The BWRAG certification is a prerequisite for purchasing the Patagonia PSI Vest. A certificate of completion is given to each participant and can be presented to purchase the vest. www.bwrag.com