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New national standards for training high-ropes instructors as demand grows for such activities

SINGAPORE — New national guidelines on the training standards of high-ropes instructors were launched on Tuesday (Jan 18) in a bid to have a common syllabus and certification structure.

New national standards for training high-ropes instructors as demand grows for such activities
An instructor securing the participant's weight before lowering her down.
  • A new syllabus to standardise training course for instructors of high-rope activities was launched
  • Practitioners will have to go through a tiered approach to be certified
  • Before this, current trainers and instructors were certified based on the syllabus provided by various operators
  • This may result in different teaching methods in areas such as safety management

SINGAPORE — New national guidelines on the training standards of high-ropes instructors were launched on Tuesday (Jan 18) in a bid to have a common syllabus and certification structure.

Under this new standard course by the Singapore Sport Climbing and Mountaineering Federation, practitioners will have to go through a tiered approach to be certified, where each level having different requirements. 

They will also have to acquire different levels of rescue and recovery techniques and knowledge on how to use new industry-accepted hardware and climbing equipment such as wire ropes, friction devices and climbing harnesses.

Mr Rasip Isnin, secretary-general of the federation, said that it is difficult to give a comparison of the new certification course to existing courses because current trainers and instructors are certified according to the syllabus provided by various operators, which may result in different teaching methods in areas such as safety management.

“There isn’t a common training standard now that practitioners can refer to because different organisations offer different standards,” he said.

“So what we did was we enhanced the current standards to create a structure for practitioners to refer to as they progress (in their training).”

This is the second national guide issued by the federation. It launched its national climbing and abseiling training standards over a decade ago and there are more than 300 subscribers to these standards to date. 

When asked by TODAY if the move was spurred by the death of a 15-year-old Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) student last February, who lost his footing while at a height during a school camp programme, Mr Rasip said that it was not so.

He added that the new standards guide has been a work in progress for several months now and the move was due to the increasing interest in high-ropes courses, as more commercial activity spaces have emerged islandwide.

After the student’s death last February, the Ministry of Education suspended all outdoor activities involving high elements.

The same month, the ministry said that it had implemented extra protocols to make zipline activity safer at all schools since last January, after a Primary 4 pupil from Concord Primary School in Chua Chu Kang fell while doing such an activity in the school as part of her co-curricular activities in February 2020.

Mr Rasip declined to comment on whether the new training standards could prevent the incidents that happened at the two schools.

One of the facilities offering high-ropes activities is the Adventure HQ in HomeTeamNS Khatib clubhouse, an indoor hub complete with rock-climbing walls, adventure trails and rope courses. HomeTeam NS is a non-profit association set up to recognise the contributions of police and Singapore Civil Defence Force national servicemen.

Mr Iswandi Masduki, assistant director of business development and marketing at HomeTeamNS, said that it now works with an external operator to train a selected group of high-ropes specialists as in-house trainers. They then go on to conduct monthly training and refresher courses for other specialists in its facilities. 

However, the certification that the specialists received from the curriculum they undertook is specific to the sites or facilities. 

“With the introduction of this national standard, all our specialists will now be trained under a nationally recognised curriculum, which is more structured.

“It also allows our instructors access to knowledge of the industry’s best practices,” Mr Iswandi said, adding that the certification can also be used outside HomeTeamNS’ facilities.

An instructor demonstrating the use of an assisted belay device to lower a participant.

During the launch on Tuesday, two demonstrations were conducted by specialists trained under the new syllabus.

One of the two scenarios played out involved a participant who lost his grip at the rock wall, fell off and was unable to climb again due to exhaustion.

A specialist then used a hoisting device to offload the participant’s weight and lowered him using another belay device.

Mr Rasip said that the Singapore Sport Climbing and Mountaineering Federation developed the training standards in consultation with a team of programme specialists from HomeTeamNS, the People's Association's Passion Wave, which offers a range of land and water sports activities, and two other corporations.

In a separate media release on Tuesday, the Outdoor Learning and Adventure Education Association said that it is working with various public and private stakeholders to enhance the outdoor-adventure education sector and review its standard of practices and accreditation framework.

It is also canvassing views on activities such as high-rope courses, zipline and water paddling.

The number of activities is expected to rebound this year and the next after it slowed down because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Delane Lim, secretary for the association, said: “(With the expected rebound), we thought it would be an opportune time to relook our industry standards and protocols. We are also seeking public and stakeholder feedback on the proposed enhancements.” 

More details can be found at the association's website at www.olae.sg.

Related topics

high ropes rock climbing climbing skills training outdoor Sports

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