TSgt James J. Thede
Updated as often as I can, see whats new at the site.
PARARESCUE RELATED SITES
While you're there, check out their new Photo album. They have some good pictures!
DIVE MED TECH
begin training with the I Course at Lackland AFB, TX. Here is where the
weak and unfit are weeded out. We don't want wimps in the career field.
You will be tested. The entire course is about 10 weeks long.
"Only 70% of 170 USAF Pararescue
operators slots are filled", an Air Force Special Operations Commander
says. Reason: "70% failure rate of airmen attending the 62-week Pararescue
- Soldier of Fortune Magazine, July 1997
Because of the unique physical demands
required by this specialty, recruits who intend to volunteer for Pararescue
training should prepare themselves prior to Basic Military Training. A
basic plan is included below. You need to read this information to help
you prepare effectively. The more effort you put into preparation, the
easier PJ training will be.
This training develops efficiency in oxygen transfer through activities
that increase the heart rate to a training level and maintain it for at
least 20 minutes. Running and swimming are the two training areas you need
to work on prior to entering the Air Force.
You will be required to do extensive running during Pararescue training.
These runs progress rapidly and after several weeks will vary up to 40
minutes and longer in duration. In preparation, you should run 3-4 times
per week for 15 to 25 minutes, at a speed you can maintain without walking
or stopping. You should be able to run 3 miles under 21 minutes prior to
starting basic training.
You will swim everyday during the Indoctrination Course. A trainee
may swim 2000 meters or more in a typical session. In preparation, you
should swim 500-1000 meters, 3-5 times per week. You should be able to
swim 1000 meters in 25-30 minutes using the freestyle stroke, prior to
Strength and Endurance:
The training and mission rigors of Pararescue will make strong demands
on your overall strength and endurance capabilities. Strength is your ability
to exert a strong force. Endurance is your ability to exert this force
for a prolonged period of time. Your preparation must be geared toward
developing a balance of strength and endurance throughout your body. This
is best achieved with calisthenics (or weight training) that targets all
your major muscle groups. If you are already involved in a weight-training
program, continue; but revise your workouts to develop strength and endurance
(8-12 repetition sets). Also include calisthenics as an addition.
The purpose of this course is to recruit, screen, and train candidates
for each specialty (PJ and CCT). Training mentally and physically prepares
students to deal with the rigors of the training pipeline, and their ultimate
assignment. To prepare a student mentally, we will provide physical situations
and stresses that test your determination and perseverance. This is done
because PJ and CCT may find themselves in mentally demanding situations,
where the lives of many depend on our abilities to function despite fatigue
or injury. Indoctrination course training will emphasize unity and the
strength of teamwork. Some candidates will feel our expectations are too
high and will quit. If you do graduate, it should prevent you from failure
in the pipeline, if 100% dedication is maintained. Before reporting to
the I-Course, prepare yourself physically and mentally and consider the
All students, regardless of rank will:
- Be housed in
the I-course dormitory
- Abide by curfew,
phase programs, and liberty restrictions
- Not drive a
private motor vehicle or travel between pipeline schools in a POV
- Not consume
alcohol during the I-course
- Not consume
tobacco products during the I-course
- Eat all mandatory
meals in the designated dining hall
- Take part in
all school requirements, traditions, and activities
- Maintain exemplary
standards of appearance and discipline
- Maintain living
areas in accordance with selection course standards
- Perform Charge
of Quarters (CQ) duties (except Team Leaders)
must train to their capacity. Objective evaluations as well as subjective
feedback from instructors will be used to gauge student progression and
Students are expected to attain 80% or higher on all academic tests. Failing
a retest will result in elimination from this course.
Senior ranking students will function as class leaders. They will be responsible
and accountable for all students during training and will be the main focal
point for cadre/student interaction.
PHYSICAL AND WATER CONFIDENCE
There are two phases to indoctrination training. Phase 1, weeks 1-4, is
Initial Familiarization Training (IFAM), which concentrates on teaching
objective skills and preparing you for team training. During phase 1 you
can expect to be participating in academic instruction and training in
2-3 events daily i.e. running, swimming, and calisthenics or water confidence.
Phase 2, weeks 5-10, is team training, which concentrates on progression
of skills taught in phase one and building team unity. During phase 2 you
can expect to train in all 4 events daily. Also, continuing academics such
as medical and dive terminology and CPR classes. Week 10 is ancillary training
consisting of physiological training and administrative preparation for
the pipeline. Every Monday during Phase I you will be administered a progress
check to evaluate your progression in running, cals and swimming. Technically
(as stated above), you can't wash out during Phase I (unless you quit).
Expect 2-3 training sessions a day, consisting of run, swim, and/or cals/underwater
Phase I - Every monday during phase 1, you will be administered a progress
check to evaluate your progression in running, calisthenics, and swimming.
These are purely diagnostic evals. They will only be used by the individual
to measure their own progress in training. You will also be administered
tow examinations covering the material instructed on metric conversion
and dive physics. You will be required to pass both exams with a minimum
80% score for each test. On the last day of phase 1, the first graded physical
evaluation will be administered. It follows the standard phase 2 criteria
covered below. Phase II - Every Monday during Phase II, you will be evaluated
on running, cals and swimming. Ever Friday you will be administered an
eval on underwater confidence tasks. It is in your best interest to come
to each of these evaluations both mentally and physically prepared. The
following criteria is used for weekly evaluations:
complete the minimum calisthenics repetitions in the allotted time
- You will be
evaluated on pull-ups, sit-ups, and push-ups
- Each calisthenic
is evaluated separately. Repetitions will be counted by an instructor...only
repetitions completed in proper form will be counted
- Failure of the
same calisthenics exercise, in two consecutive evals is grounds for elimination
for the class
complete the required distance run in the allotted time
- Failure of 2
consecutive run evals is ground for elimination from the class
- To successfully
pass a weekly water confidence evaluation a student must:
complete the minimum time or distance requirements for bobbing, drown proofing,
lifesaving, mask and snorkel recovery, buddy breathing, underwater knots,
weight belt swim, treading water, and ditching and donning
- Failure of the
same water confidence exercise in 2 consecutive evals is grounds for elimination
from the class
Missing an evaluation
due to medical waiver, sick call, or any other reason is an AUTOMATIC FAILURE
of all areas missed.
If a student fails to achieve the minimum standard for any event during
an evaluation he will still complete the remainder of the eval with his
||Pull ups||Chin ups
||2 miles/15:00 min
||2 miles/14 min
||3 miles/21 min
||3 miles/21 min
||4 miles/28 min
||4.5 miles/32 min
||5 miles/35:30 min
||5.5 miles/38:40 min
||6 miles/42 min
This is a two-count exercise. Starting position is hands approximately
shoulder width apart with arms straight, the legs are extended, and the
back and legs remain straight. Count one; lower the chest until the elbows
extend above the shoulder blades. Count two; return to the starting position.
The only authorized rest position is the starting position. You should
be able to do 40-50 repetitions of this exercise prior to basic training.
This is a two-count exercise. Starting position is hanging from the bar,
palms facing away (pull-ups) or towards you (chin-ups), hands spread approximately
shoulder width, with no bend in the elbow. Count one; pull the body up
until the Adam's Apple is above the bar, with the chin held level. Count
two; return to the starting position. Legs are allowed to bend but must
not be kicked or manipulated to aid the upward movement. You should be
able to do 8-10 repetitions of this exercise prior to basic training.
This is a two-count exercise. Starting position is back flat on the
ground, fingers interlocked behind the head, head off the mat, and knees
bent at approximately 90 degrees. The feet (only) are held by another individual
during the exercise. Count one; sit up to where the shoulders and hips
form a line perpendicular to the ground (biceps are touching the knees).
Count two; return to the starting position. There is no rest position during
this exercise. The buttocks must remain in contact with the ground, and
the fingers must remain interlocked behind the head. You should be able
to perform 40-60 repetitions of this exercise prior to basic training.
This is a four-count exercise. Starting position is lying on your back, legs together approximately 6" off the ground leg and knees straignt, hands under the thighs/buttocks. On the count of 1 lift the left leg (keeping it straight) up to an approximately 45 degree angle...the right let remains in position off the ground. On count of 2 simultaneously lift the right leg in the same manner while returning the left leg to the starting position...basically scissor kicking. 4 counts equal 1 repetition.
A variety of different runs will be conducted during training at this course.
These runs include long, slow, distance, fartlek, indian sprints, interval
training, and others. The type running you will be evaluated on is "all
out" distance running. Our standard for evaluated runs is a 7-7:15
minute per mile pace depending on the distance.
All evaluated swims at the Indoctrination Course are distance swims
using "Rocket" style fins. The swimmer is in the prone glide
position with one arm locked out in front of him, to act as a guide arm.
The other arm is trailing, or can be used -- in a side stroke fashion --
to provide propulsion (UDT recovery stroke). The legs are locked at the
knees with the movement coming from the hips. The legs are used in flutter
kick motion to provide propulsion. Breathing is similar to freestyle swimming,
but is on one side only. The swimmers body is oriented to the side, but
never on the back.
Equipment: Dive mask, Rocket fins, and booties
The exercise will begin with the students prepared to go and in a swimming
lane. On the command "Go", the students will leave the wall and
begin to swim, using only their legs, in a flutter kick manner to propel
them through the water. Students will swim on their sides or stomach only,
with one arm extended, looking down that arm and ahead while swimming.
Upon reaching the wall, the student will turn around and continue to swim.
This will continue until the required number of laps have been completed,
or the instructor calls time. During fin swims no freestyle strokes or
dolphin kicks will be used. If sprints are being conducted the instructor
will specify a distance and maximum time to meet. Students will complete
the sprint distance as quickly as possible and be allowed a rest period
before the next sprint. To successfully complete swimming exercises you
must complete each swim in the prescribed manner and within the time period
prescribed. If you continually utilize improper technique, fail to complete
a distance swim in the time allocated, or continuously fail to perform
sprints within the maximum time, you will be scored as unsatisfactory for
The intent of the following training items is to increase your confidence
in the water, increase the amount of time you can spend underwater, and
increase your ability to react calmly and rationally in high-stress situations.
The following pool training events will be evaluated during your training
at the Indoctrination course.
The following water
confidence exercise descriptions are included for your information only!
Do not attempt to do these exercises unless you have a lifeguard standing
by for safety. Doing these events may lead to "shallow water blackout".
If this condition occurs a lifeguard must be immediately available to prevent
brain damage or death.
Equipment: mask, ropes or velcro hand/leg cuffs.
NOTE: Drown proofing starts at week 5. Drown proofing is accomplished in
4 tasks. The exercise begins with the student's hands and feet bound and
the student sitting on the deck in the deep end of the pool. Upon the command
"enter the water", the student will enter the water and start
to bob. The first task is bobbing. Bobbing is accomplished by sinking to
the bottom of the pool. Upon reaching the bottom, bend your knees and push
off the bottom exhaling until you reach the surface. When your head reaches
the surface, inhale and begin the process again. The second task is floating.
Floating is accomplished by inhaling as much air as possible into your
lungs. The student will then tuck his chin into his chest, bend forward
at the waist and relax, staying within
a 4x4 meter square. When air is required, you will bring your head out
of the water, breathe then go back to the float position. Students will
not touch the bottom or sides of the pool and are required to stay in the
square. The third task is the traveling. The student will dolphin kick
100 meters without touching the bottom or sides of the pool. The dolphin
kick is accomplished on your stomach, body bent at the waist and your head
moving up and down in the water. Your feet and knees will propel you through
the pool. The fourth task consists of flips and mask recovery. Once the
travel is complete the student will begin bobbing again. Within five bobs
you will accomplish a front flip underwater. Within another five bobs you
will accomplish a backwards flip underwater. Once both flips are complete,
a mask is thrown to the bottom of the pool. The student will go to the
bottom, pick up the mask with his teeth, and complete five bobs. After
all tasks are complete, the instructor will call "time". The
safety will assist the bobber out of the water. To successfully complete
this exercise the student must accomplish all of the above tasks in sequence
and without panicking. If unable, he will be scored unsatisfactory for
The following is the evaluation criteria for each week:
Week #5: Bobbing 5 min, Float - 2 min
Week #6: Bobbing 5 min, Float - 2 min, Travel - 100m
Week #7: Bobbing 5 min, Float - 2 min, Travel - 100m, Flips, Mask recovery.
Week #8 and #9: Same as week #7.
Mask and Snorkel Recovery:
Equipment: Mask, Snorkel, T-shirt, Booties.
The mask and snorkel exercise begins with all students at one end of the
pool. The instructor will then throw or place the student's mask and snorkel
a specified distance from the student. This exercise is accomplished one
or two students at a time. On the command "go", the student will
leave the surface of the pool and swim underwater to the location of his
mask and snorkel. Upon reaching them, he will place the snorkel between
his legs and position his mask on his face. Once positioned, he will clear
the mask of water, retaining a small amount of air. He will then make a
controlled ascent to the surface with the snorkel in his mouth and left
arm extended above his head with clenched fist. Once on the surface he
will clear the snorkel and give the "ok" hand signal to the evaluating
instructor. He will ensure he is facing the instructor and immediately
demonstrate that his mask and snorkel are clear by looking up at the instructor
and breathing through the snorkel. A small amount of water in the mask
is permissible as long as it does not exceed the top of the nose indents.
While on the surface, the student will not break the mask or snorkel seal
until the exercise has been graded and he is permitted to do so by the
instructor. This exercise will be scored unsatisfactory if the student
surfaces prior to clearing the mask or fails to satisfactorily perform
in any of the above listed areas.
Equipment: Face masks, one snorkel per 2 man team, T-shirt, booties.
This exercise is conducted in the deep end of the pool. Students will enter
the water when directed by the instructor. On the command "start",
they will place their faces into the water and begin to survival float
while buddy breathing from one snorkel. During the exercise period, the
students will maintain control of each other with one hand. With the other
hand they will maintain control and pass the snorkel between each other.
A student should try to consider his buddy's limited air supply and take
only one breath before passing the snorkel back. During this exercise the
students will breath only through the snorkel. At no time will they remove
their heads from the water and breath from the surface. The exercise period
ends on the command "time". To satisfactorily complete this exercise,
each student must keep his face in the water during the entire exercise
period. He must remain calm, maintain control of himself, his buddy, and
the snorkel. The student will be given one warning for unsatisfactory performance
and on the next occurrence will be scored unsatisfactory for the exercise.
Pool harassment is added as a more intense form of buddy breathing. It
involves the instructor entering the water and providing the students with
certain stressful situations to see if a student will panic. The same standards
apply to this exercise. During pool harassment the instructor may troy
- Take the snorkel (don't let him)
- Remove the face mask
- Attempt to separate partners (don't let him)
- Cut off your air supply for one or two breaths
- Splash water
- Push students underwater
- OTHER MANEUVERS AT HIS DISCRETION
Equipment: T-shirt, booties.
The exercise begins with the student moving from waist deep water into
deep water. On the command "hands up", the student will raise
their hands out of the water and tread water by using their legs only.
The student must ensure their hands above the wrist and their head do not
break the water line for the minimum evaluated time.
Weight belt swim:
Equipment: Mask, fins, booties, T-shirt.
The exercise begins when the student moves from waist deep water into the
deep end of the pool. The student must swim on his side, either left or
right, with the leading arm out in front, continuously for the designated
period of time. While swimming, the student cannot switch from his left
to right side or vice versa (the side you start on is it), swim on his
back, or touch any portion of the pool (sides or bottom). The student can
use his other arm to assist in a "recovery stroke" to help lift
his head out of the water to breath.
Equipment: 2 sling ropes per student, T-shirt, booties.
Preparing the Pool. The pool will be prepared for this exercise on instructor
command. A long pool rope and the associated weights will be used in rigging
the pool for training (the class leader will ensure these are at the pool).
The rope will be strung across the deepest end of the pool, with the 25lb
weights on the sides, holding the rope to the bottom. The exercise begins
with the students spread out over the length of the rope treading water.
Each student will have two ropes (one in hand and one stowed in the swimming
trunks). The instructor will then announce the know or knots to be tied
on the dive. On command, each student will descend to the rope and tie
the required knot(s) prior to surfacing. All knots will be dressed and
the tails will not be less than 4 inches, nor greater than 8 inches. After
the knot(s) have been tied an instructor will check them to ensure they
are tied correctly. If tied incorrectly the exercise will be repeated until
the student is able to complete the required knot(s). If he is unable to
satisfactorily tie the knot(s) he will be scored as unsatisfactory for
Equipment: Mask, fins, booties, T-shirt, weight belt.
The exercise begins with all equipment on and the students in the shallow
end of the pool, lined facing the deep end of the pool. On the command
"move to the deep end", the students will begin treading water
and moving to the deep end of the pool. Once at the deep end, the students
will tread water for a specified time period. On the command "ditch
your equipment", the students will make a clear water surface dive
to the deepest part of the pool. They will then ditch their gear in the
following sequence: fins together and pointed to the head of the pool,
mask on top of the fins, weight belt neatly placed over the mask and fins.
After ditching, each student will make a controlled ascent to the pool
surface with left arm over his head with clenched fist, and give the "ok"
sign to an instructor. On the command "recover your equipment",
students will make a clear water surface dive to their equipment, and don
it in the following sequence: weight belt first, fins second, mask third.
Each student will then clear their mask and make a controlled ascent to
the surface with clenched fist above the head. On the surface, they will
give the "ok" signal to an instructor and move to the head of
the pool with their head out of the water and mask clear. Students will
not touch any equipment on the way to the head of the pool. At the pool
head, the students will exit the water and sit on the pool edge with their
hands on top of their heads. Their equipment will then be checked for proper
configuration by an instructor. To satisfactorily complete the exercise
the student must ditch his equipment correctly on one dive and make a controlled
ascent. He must then don his equipment correctly on one dive and make a
controlled ascent. The students mask must be completely clear of water.
When checked, the weight belt must have a right hand release, and no twists
in any straps. The fins must be full on the feet with no twists in the