Swiftwater Rescue Training

Swiftwater Rescue Training: Courses

The basic course is Swiftwater / Whitewater Rescue and requires two full days. The advanced course is Swiftwater / Whitewater Rescue Technician and that requires four full days. The certification is valid for three years, at which point you need to re-certify. Recertification typically takes two full days.

Typically, the courses are entirely taught in the field. You're jumping into moving water, pulling canoes out of rivers and learning to toss throw bags in a big empty field. There is absolutely no classroom time.

Any swiftwater rescue training is going to be expensive.

Note: Most people use 'swiftwater' and 'whitewater' interchangeably. There is a subtle difference, but for the purpose of this article, they mean the same thing.

Note: The photos in this post are by Boreal River Rescue. This is the guiding company I did my Wilderness First Responder, Whitewater Rescue Technician, and Moving Water courses with. I am not sponsored or endorsed by Boreal River Rescue; I simply think they are amazing.

Swiftwater Rescue Training: The Content

So now that you have an idea of what the courses look like, let's get into the specific content you'll be learning and how it can be applied to the river.

Learn How to Establish Downstream Safety

Downstream safety refers to establishing safety measures downstream of the paddlers. It is often rescuers on the shoreline with throw bags ready to help anyone going down the rapid. It could also be a pair of paddlers in a boat at the bottom of the set.

How would you use this on the river? Let's say you've scouted a big rapid and determined it's safe to paddle, but there's a good chance of a boat tipping. You don't want the paddlers to swim too far downriver, so you and another wait at the bottom with throw bags in hand. If the boat tips and the paddlers go swimming, you throw the rope, the pendulum into the shore and get out of the water safely.

Note: A throw bag is si...

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