The one about refreshing…


It’s that time of the year again… ok bi-yearly…. time to renew the First Aid Certs again. Now if you think about it, if you intend to work in the outdoor adventure line all your life or even just do part time work with it, you will be retaking that cert once every 2-3 years at least. That means the same old lectures, the same old pumping and blowing, the same old Stop-Think-Act or DrABC or whatever acronym they come up with now. Now my cert was coming to an end so it was time to start looking around for a refresher course (if anyone would take me) or a standard first aid course.Allow me to give you a bit of background first. I have held many first aid certs in my life, I have the usual St. John and Red Cross ones, i have the army Combat Casualty Aid Course (CCAC) ones, I have wilderness first aid certs and PADI required me to maintain a Emergency First Responder cert if i ever wanted a shot at becoming a DM (haven’t yet…) . At one point in time, i was even certified as an Emergency Medical Technician… i was told that that was equivalent to a Paramedic B licence ie. i can assist a full fledge paramedic. So like i said, if you want to work in this line, be prepared for first aid cert after first aid cert after first aid cert all your life…

Now as i was shopping around for another course provider, i was reminded about how complicated the first aid scene has become. There are so many choices available as you can see from  my list above. I did a check with some of the climbing gyms and it seems like they accept all as long as it’s a first aid cert. So i thought it would be good to do a little check to remind us of what are the first aid requirements for instructors. First up of course, you need a valid first aid cert before you can conduct a course. That’s a given. So here we go, what other things do we need to know?

So according to the Singapore Mountaineering Federation (SMF) website :

“The Trainee Instructor must hold an approved, currently valid First Aid qualification before he/she may apply for the certification assessment. A list of first aid qualifications that are recognised by the SMF is shown below. Approval may be sought with the SMF to substitute with other first aid qualifications provided the request is accompanied by proof that their scope of coverage is equal or more advanced than those listed below.

Recognised First Aid Qualifications:

  • Standard First Aid Course from the Singapore Red Cross Society
  • Adult First Aid Course from the St. John Ambulance Association
  • Wilderness First Aid Course
  • SAF Military Medic Course” 

That’s quite clear. As long as you have a cert in that (quite limited) list, you can conduct an SMF course. If your certification is not on the list, no problem, just get hold of the syllabus and drop SMF an email asking for an endorsement from them to use the cert in place of whatever they have on the list. Note that the first aid training needs to be more rigorous or at least as good as the recognised courses in the SMF list. If and when SMF do reply, you better then hold on to that email and proceed to conduct your courses.

Now it gets more tricky when you are asked by the climbing gyms to conduct what we call a “SEP” programme. That stands for Sports Education Programme (SEP) under the MOE. In a gist, there are special requirements for the instructor to fulfil before he can conduct a course under the SEP programme. Why do schools want to do SEP? Because they get 50% subsidy when they run it under the SEP banner. If you want more info about the SEP, you can click on this link : 

Instructor(s)/coach(es) are to be equipped with a valid recognised Standard First Aid Certificate at point of submission and at point of conduct of programme. Please view the List of SportSG Recognised First Aid courses

So if you want to be a SEP instructor or coach, you will need to not just have a Standard First Aid Cert, but your cert must be from an approved list of vendors dictated by Sports Singapore. The list can be found here : 

“Sport Singapore has appointed the National First Aid Council (NFAC) to accredit the Standard First Aid Courses by various training centres for the coaches in the National Registry of Coaches. The objective of this process is to ensure they have met the requirements for training facilities and training standards. “

And more details about the accreditation of first aid courses can be found here on the Sports Singapore website : 

Note that the standard first aid course that you are attending must have CPR+AED in it. There are some courses that do not come with it, they tend to be cheaper and shorter. Basic First Aid is also not recognised because it does not come with a certification, just a certificate of participation…which like i like to say, you can just go home print out on your home printer and decorate and make it nice for yourself…. ANYWAY… Yeah note that it has to be from this approved list of vendors or else it will not qualify you as an SEP instructor or coach. For those of you who are interested in signing up as a National Registry of Coaches (NROC) coach, i think there are even more stringent criteria that you need to fulfil,  you need to read up further on the website.

So yeah, that’s a summary of the research that i’ve done so far. Gonna go get my cert renewed so that i can continue teaching. Looking forward to three boring days of lessons and trying to act cocky to those first timers taking the course. But it’s something we all got to do as instructors and coaches. Don’t get me wrong, i am not belittling the course, it’s good to get refreshed every 2 years because skills do fade, but it’s just a pain in a butt to have to jump through so many hoops just to renew certs all because they come from different organisations. In my experience having attended so many programmes, they all teach the same things… i wish someone can just coordinate that part then refreshing certs will be less painful. Oh well… Here we go… 1-and-2-and-3-and-4-and….

Peaceful Vibes!

*Afterthought : If there are any discrepancies or inaccuracies in the information here, please let me know and i will make a correction. Thanks!


The one about anchors and exams…

Screenshot from QXAdventures FB page.

Good Job to QXadventures for helping to improve the anchors in Krabi, and at the same time providing a good “exam question” for us to think about. Why is the anchor on the right better than the old anchor on the left? This would make a good question to end the day at a SNCS Level 3 class. I would consider printing it out in A3 colour or pass around my ipad with this photo for my participants to discuss and answer. Nothing beats a real life example to show application of the SRENE, ERNEST, SPEAR or whichever acronym you use to teach. Give it a try. I had to buy whiskey and curry puffs for the whiskey and curry puff loving owners to use this post ok… :p

Visit QXAdventures at to read more of QX and Kelly’s climbing adventures!

The one about the accidental discharge…

I found this very interesting video from a friend’s FB post.

After an accidental discharge, or what we army boys would call a misfire, an instructor took the opportunity to turn an otherwise “reprimand-worthy-i’ll-tear-you-a-new-a**hole” moment, into a calm teachable moment. It’s not in everyone, but i believe a good instructor should be able to see the good in everyone and not just point out their weaknesses, but also help to build them back up after pulling them apart.

In this case, the instructor did away with the scolding, tried to brush it off. But when the firer insisted on apologising, rather than putting him on the spot, he thanked him for doing the right thing. The instructor was thankfully observant also and was quick to point out that the firer did no wrong in his procedure and it was purely an equipment malfunction. If you weren’t looking at the right thing at that instant, he would have missed that crucial observation that would exonerate the firer.

I guess as instructors, we can be quick to point out faults especially when it is to deal with safety issues like participants letting go of the brake lines or forgetting to lock their carabiner gates. We have a right to do so because safety is always paramount in our craft. But there are two responses that we can choose. We can choose to reprimand or we can choose to go soft. Perhaps it will be good to seize these moments as “teachable moments” so that the lessons are not lost.

You forget to lock a carabiner? Ok lock it now. Can you share with me why was that dangerous? Yeah i agree with you, i was kinda worried that your rope might slip out if the gate brushed onto a branch or something.  Now what would you do differently the next time when you are using the carabiner? Great, so let’s keep up the safety awareness and remind each other to double check our carabiner gates alright? 

Wouldn’t that make it a more palatable learning experience for all? At the end of the day, i believe that instructors should provide a safety net for trainees to fail. If they don’t make mistakes, if they don’t fail, they do not learn as well. The trick is to make a wide enough safety net to keep them safe, so that they can afford to fail and learn. If they can enjoy the experience, now wouldn’t that be a bonus for them? Something for us to think about.

*Afterthought : BTW, i have been guilty of misfire before. Thankfully it was a blank round. But my sergeants made sure i paid for it. And i have never wilfully pulled the trigger without aiming ever since. Some lessons stick for life because they are impactful enough. I guess it’s were to draw the line so that the learner comes out of it with a positive experience rather than remember it for negative reasons.

Peaceful Vibes

The one about the 1-and-2-and-3…

Conducted a SNCS Level 1 class with E just yesterday, possibly my last at CL. So many memories. But that’s another post for another day.

By this time i was so comfortable with my Level 1 course conduct that i could literally run on auto-run mode. Automaticity i believe it’s called. So when E told me he wanted to conduct Belay Sch, i wasn’t expecting anything new. I was just curious why he needed to go set up whilst i taught the knotting portion. He went off to plan his lesson.

When we headed down for the lesson, he pleasantly surprised me with the sequencing of his lesson and the activities he put in place to engage the participants and to help them understand how the belay device works for them. But when he came to the 5-step belay segment, it started to go South on me.

You see usually, and i use the word “usually” very loosely here because i am assuming all Instructors teach the same way i was taught how to. So “usually” we would teach the participants that Step 1 is where you raise your master hand and pull in the rope at the same time. Step 2 is when you would bring the master hand down and lock the belay device off and so forth and so on. E however was teaching something different. He told the participants to Step 1 bring your master hand up. Step 2, pull the rope upwards and then cut your master hand down immediately. That was step 2.

I was initially taken aback! My mind was screaming “WRONG WRONG WRONG” and i was very tempted to correct him. But i was struggling to find anything wrong with that. I was struggling to find the right words to correct him. And then i realise i couldn’t. There was really nothing wrong with doing that. As uncomfortable as i was about it, i started to realise that it was only my own “unfamiliarity” that was making me panic. In true fact, E was not wrong in teaching that way. It still worked. It was just something that was not my usual practice and i was shakened by its dissonance. Once i recognised that, i started to listen to him closely. And i realised he knew what he was doing.

I think we all come with our own set of experiences and expertise. Whenever we think we know too much or we know what’s best, we slip into “automaticity” and that’s where only we are right and everyone else is wrong or just simply not good enough. I hope instructors can learn to open their minds and to keep questioning. Just as when they were new instructors and they were eager to learn from everyone and everything around them. The moment we shut our minds off from the rest of the world, we become the proverbial frog in the well. I thought i was open, but i realised i was rocked by this dissonance also. Thankfully i was able to take a step back and let E carry on with his lesson. I guess there’s always something new you can teach an old dog. As long as the dog still wants to learn.

Peaceful Vibes!


Reboot: 5 Resources for Teacher Inspiration


We’re not teachers, but instructors need that inspirational talk or a source of motivation once in awhile. As we start off a new year, perhaps we can rethink our inspirations to teach?


Whether snacking on TED-Ed videos, reading with purpose, checking into a smile backchannel, or chuckling at hashtags and memes, you’re never far from relief and inspiration.

Source: Reboot: 5 Resources for Teacher Inspiration