The Swiftwater Rescue workshop teaches recognition and avoidance of common river hazards, execution of self-rescue techniques, and rescue techniques for paddlers in distress. Emphasis is placed both on personal safety and on simple, commonly used skills. Fundamental and more advanced techniques for dealing with hazards that carry greater risks for both victim and rescuer, such as strainers, rescue vest applications, entrapments, and pins, also are practiced. Scenarios will provide an opportunity for participants to practice their skills both individually and within a team/group context.

Program schedule will consist of the following:

  • Friday 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday  8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday  8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Essential Eligibility Criteria (EEC)

ACA courses are open to all individuals who acknowledge the ability to perform the following essential eligibility criteria.

  1. Breathe independently (i.e., not require medical devices to sustain breathing)
  2. Independently maintain sealed airway passages while under water
  3. Independently hold head upright without neck / head support
  4. Manage personal care independently or with assistance of a companion
  5. Manage personal mobility independently or with a reasonable amount of assistance
  6. Follow instructions and effectively communicate independently or with assistance of a companion
  7. Independently turn from face-down to face-up and remain floating face up while wearing a properly fitted life jacket*
  8. Get on / off or in / out of a paddlecraft independently or with a reasonable amount of assistance*
  9. Independently get out and from under a capsized paddlecraft*
  10. Remount or reenter the paddlecraft following deep water capsize independently or with a reasonable amount of assistance*
  11. Maintain a safe body position while attempting skills, activities and rescues listed in the appropriate Course Outline, and have the ability to recognize and identify to others when such efforts would be unsafe given your personal situation*
*To participate in adaptive programs, participants must acknowledge only the first six EEC listed above. Entry-level adaptive programs will involve teaching and practicing EEC #7-11.

Who Should Attend?

This is an American Canoe Association Level 4 Swiftwater Rescue course. It is open to recreational and professional whitewater boaters that would like to improve their skills in recognizing and avoiding whitewater hazards, execution of self- rescue techniques, and rescue techniques for paddlers in distress.

Course Prerequisites

All paddle craft are welcome. Boaters should be able to competently maneuver their craft in Class I-II rapids. However, all boaters, and non-boaters with an interest in swiftwater rescue (e.g., professional rescuers), will benefit from the class. Participants should be in good health and overall fitness, possess solid swimming ability, and be comfortable swimming in moving current during river drills. Participants should dress appropriately for weather and temperature and expect to be in the water for extended periods of time.

What Will I Learn?

  • Promote proactive prevention of river accidents and injuries
  • Develop and practice key self-rescue skills
  • Identify and avoid river hazards by understanding hydrology, hazards, and river features
  • Focus on fast, low-risk strategies for early management of river accidents
  • Develop and practice methods for recovering swimmers, and loose boats and equipment
  • Develop and practice more advanced rope-based and in-water skills
  • Gain experience using the rescue PFD, and understand its strengths and weaknesses
  • Utilize rescue scene management principles needed within a paddling group

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