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RESCUE 3 NW - Swiftwater Rescue Training

TO: Public Safety and Rescue Personnel,
National Parks and Forest Service,
Whitewater Rafters and Kayakers


Each year when winter flood waters rise or in the spring and summer when the whitewater boating season begins, rescue and public safety personnel will be required to save unlucky persons or poorly prepared boaters from dangerous and life threatening situations. Rescue 3 NW offers classes dealing with swiftwater emergencies for boaters and rescue personnel.

Emergency Rescue Training accomplishes at least 3 very important functions:

Since 1987 the Swiftwater Rescue Technician I program has been conducted in a grueling 3 day format and, for the most part, people were certified by Rescue 3 International as Swiftwater Rescue Technicians whether they really had the skills or not. The most common feedback we received over the years was that the course should be 4 days instead of 3. 

To that end, the Swiftwater Rescue Technician program offered by Rescue 3 NW has been changed to four days, (or 3 days and one evening depending upon students previous experience). Also, to achieve full certification through the International Rescue Instructors Association at the Technician level (III), students must pass a field test and achieve at least an 80% overall score. Those who do not reach this goal will be certified at the Operations Level (II).

Swiftwater Rescue Technician Level III is an intensive four day, 30 hour class. There will be one day of classroom instruction followed by three days developing and practicing skills in the water. The initial emphasis is to assure the safety of the rescuers themselves. Objectives include an in-depth look at such subjects as understanding moving water dynamics and hydrology, handling hazards and obstacles, conducting basic boat-based rescues, using technical rope rescue systems, controlling in-water contact rescues, and more.

A manual, written test, certificate of completion patch and I.D. card are included in the fee. The prerequisites are being in good physical condition, swimming ability and previous experience in rescue disciplines and/or whitewater boating experience. Equipment needed includes a full wetsuit or drysuit (preferred), a type III or V personal floatation device (PFD), a climbing or kayaking helmet, and river footwear. RESCUE 3 NW has plenty of P.F.D.'s, helmets if you don't have these items.

This course meets the requirements of the NFPA 1670 Standard for Technical Rescue in water and rope and is certified by the International Rescue Instructors Association. Casey Garland, master instructor, teaches this course.

Who can benefit most from this class?

Swiftwater Rescue Technician Level III Course Outline

DAY ONE: classroom lecture
Depending upon students previous experience, this portion of the class can be conducted in an afternoon or evening session. Rescuer safety training and equipment. Swiftwater dynamics and hazards. Medical problems and considerations. Cold water near drowning. Rescue videos.

DAY TWO: on river practical
Swiftwater safety and signals. Swimming safely in rapids with control. Floods and shallow water crossings, controlled log swim, combat swims, foot entrapment and live bait rescues. Introductions to ropes, knots and technical gear. Mechanical advantage rope systems, two and four point boat tether systems. 

DAY THREE: on river practical
Cervical immobilization, boat handling and boogie boards. Dealing with family and bystanders. Cross river communications. Tension diagonals and line crossings. Boat wrapping. 

DAY FOUR: on river practical and field test
Team organization and preplanning. Highline with boat on tether, de-briefing and critique. Skills testing. Final written exam, course evaluation and certification.

The SRT Level III course is a physically demanding and potentially dangerous course, each student will be required to accurately assess their current physical health and sign a liability waiver form.

Each student will be responsible for providing his or her own:

Students must have swimming skills. Rescue gear, boats, text books, materials certification and badge will be provided by Rescue 3 NW. The timing of the first day or evening of classroom lecture and instruction is flexible. The class time for the on river practical sessions is 8:30am to 5:30pm daily.

This is a brief outline. Over 40 skills and topics will be covered. While my courses are generally a mix of private boaters, agency personnel and river guides, sometimes classes lean toward one group more than the other. To that end, I always endeavor to modify the course content to accommodate the special interests while full-filling the certification requirements. The most common comments I receive on the course evaluation forms are:

Since 1987, Casey Garland and RESCUE 3 NW have trained over 1,500 people in Washington, Oregon, Canada, Japan and Taiwan.

I have been a teacher for 26 years, the last 14 as a college professor. I have participated in literally hundreds of activities, instructor and instructor-trainer courses over the years. Casey's SRT course was simply one of the best classes that I have taken. He brings together years of rafting experience and rigging expertise to offer an excellent swiftwater course and I highly recommend it.

Dick Green, Ed.D.
Department of Exercise Science
Gonzaga University
Spokane, WA

BOAT HANDLING CLINICS: Learning how to navigate whitewater rivers with confidence and control takes a good deal of practice. If you're new to whitewater boating or your agency is using an inflatable raft in swiftwater, you need additional training. This one day clinic features running the river in paddle and oar powered rafts with a specific focus on the techniques required for maneuvering to pre-designated locations within rapids, and a slow controlled decent. We will also place emphasis on proper "mistake" recovery to expand your comfort level during those momentary losses of control. Anyone in the river environment can make an error, the sign of competency is making the right correction instead of compounding the problem. Many boaters just run the river and learn from 'hard rocks' over time. Practicing advanced techniques by design is the quickest way to integrate knowledge into reliable skills. Give me a call to scheduled dates and locations for groups of eight or more. I have over 39,000 miles and 41 years experience in whitewater navigation. - Casey Garland

SRT  On-River Session Digital Photos - July 2009

SRT  On-River Session Digital Photos - Aug-Sep 2007 - Tieton River

SRT  On-River Session Digital Photos - May 2006 - Green River

SRT  On-River Session Digital Photos - Aug. 2004 - NF Skykomish River (WRRR Group-tailored)

SRT  On-River Session Digital Photos - Aug. 2002 - Sauk River

SRT  On-River Session Digital Photos - Sept. 2000 - Tieton River

SRT  On-River Session Photos - Oct. 1997 - NF Skykomish River (BEWET Group-tailored)

(206) 910-7102

4 day - Swiftwater Rescue Technician Level III - $350.
(add WA State Sales Tax for total fee)
Please register me for the following 4 day SRT Level III (circle)


Other dates, locations and "boater only" class formats are available. Have skills - will travel.
Contact Casey Garland at (206) 910-7102

A DEPOSIT of $50. per participant is required to reserve your space in the course. Full payment is due 14 days before the course starting date (except government purchase orders). Reservations made within 14 days of the course date must be paid in full with a cashiers check or VISA / MASTERCARD . Deposit and balance can be refunded up to 14 days prior to the course; after that, fees are non-refundable but can be applied, less deposit, to another course. You can also elect to substitute another person to take your place.

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Links: IRIA , USA Rescue Network , Whitewater Rescue Institute

Last Update 9-May-15
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