Students will demonstrate the ability to assess risk for water emergencies in a backcountry setting. Students will understand and display the skills and application of appropriate techniques to execute rescue plans in emergencies situations. Students will demonstrate the knowledge of a comprehensive understanding of emergency management for water emergencies in backcountry settings.

Students will perform all rescue skills in a lake or river environment designed to simulate authentic conditions.

The course is scenario based, designed to try and place students into realistic situations as often as possible. Wilderness First Aid and strong swimming ability are required prerequisites for this training program.

Topics Covered

Program objectives and scope of practice include:

Role and responsibilities of a wilderness water safety supervisor

Legal considerations and negligence

Risk assessment and mitigation for water activities

    1. Identifying hazards in the swimming area
    2. Setting boundaries and best practices for swimming activities
    3. Assessment of condition of swimmer, environment and rescuer
    4. Conditions increasing areas of risk

Rescue Swimming

    1. Water entries
    2. 50M head up swim
    3. Surface dives
    4. 400m swim

PFD Personal Floatation Devices

    1. Equipment overview
    2. Donning and doffing a PFD in the water


    1. Epidemiology of drowning
    2. Physiology of drowning
    3. Secondary drowning/Aspiration of water
    4. Drowning person profiles
    5. Cold water and hypothermia


    1. Theory of sighting
    2. Dry land practice of sightings
    3. Sightings in aquatic environments

Shore Based Rescues

    1. Traditional reaching and throwing devices
    2. Improvised reaching and throwing devices for backcountry settings
    3. Application of improvised reaching and throwing techniques

Watercraft Based Rescues

    1. Rescues using watercraft (canoe, kayak, paddleboard)
    2. Direct and indirect rescues

Swimming and Contact Rescues

    1. Patient approach, contact and towing
      1. Rescues when swimmer is on the surface
      2. Rescues when the swimmer is submerged
      3. Conscious swimmers in trouble
      4. Situations involving more than one swimmer
      5. Releases and Escapes
      6. Swimming rescues using PFD

Critical interventions for water emergencies

    1. Primary survey problems in the backcountry
    2. Rescue breathing in shallow water, from watercraft
    3. CPR


    1. Hasty search
    2. Searching for swimmers last seen in the water
    3. Searching for swimmers (unsighted)
    4. Use of watercraft in search

Head and Spinal injuries

    1. Assessment of spinal injuries
    2. Patient handling and appropriate packaging
    3. Improvised assists for patient removal from water
    4. Spine injury management in backcountry settings

Documentation and Reporting of Events

    1. Documentation examples
    2. Sample document completion

Supervision for water activities

    1. Scanning
    2. Head counts
    3. Enforcing safety systems
    4. Supervisor self-care
    5. Managing distractions

Recertification Information

Maintenance of the WWSS certification can be achieved by successfully participating in a one-day skills evaluation program within 2 years of your last training date.

Course Information

Course length: 3 days

View Our Upcoming Courses

This Course is For

This course is designed for leaders, educators and guides to equip them with the skills and knowledge to establish safe swimming areas wherever they go and how to rescue swimmers who are having trouble.

What You Will Gain

Participants will gain experience in risk assessment and mitigation. Participants will understand best practices for participating in water-based activities and will leave the program equipped to be a leader in these practices.

Upcomming Course Schedule


June 5, 2024 - June 7, 2024



Course Location

Bear Creek Outdoor Centre
348 Chemin Burke
Litchfield, Quebec

What's Included

  • Accommodations
  • Meals
  • Snacks
  • Training materials
  • Certification


June 15, 2024 - June 16, 2024



Course Location

Bear Creek Outdoor Centre
348 Chemin Burke
Litchfield, Quebec

What's Included

  • Accommodations
  • Meals
  • Snacks
  • Training materials
  • Certification

Please note that this 3 day course is divided. The skills component will be conducted the weekend of June 15-16 and the examinations conducted Saturday June 22.