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Old 11-25-2004   #1
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 177
Swiftwater Rescue Courses

I am going to take a swiftwater rescue course next spring and had a few questions about them. Who has good courses, and what should I look for in a course? Also, I am going to get a rescue vest sometime, but they are expensive and I am poor, do I need a vest for the course or will my regular pfd work? Thanks.

Whiskey's for drinkin' and waters for fightin'
- Mark Twain
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Old 11-26-2004   #2
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Seattle, Washington
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I took a course from Bill Dvorak at his rafting outfit in Buena Vista. The class was really good, but mostly focused on rescue from a rafting perspective. He's definitely got a lot of experience and that comes through in his course.
I also know that BOC and several other denver area places offer classes. Some classes offer an actual certification, which may interest you if you're going to work as a raft guide, safety boater, etc. The certification does not necessarily mean its the best class for kayakers to take though. Look for a class taught by someone who has a lot of experience in the kind of boating you do - rafting, class V kayaking, etc. You also probably want to make sure that the instructor has a certification to teach ww rescue.
As for the rescue vest, I believe that it is an important tool, but by no means do you need one to take a class. Chances are that someone in your class will have one and it's good to understand how they work and their limitations.
Also, make your friends take the class with you. After all, it's not their lives they'll be's yours.

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Old 11-26-2004   #3
Bend, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
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CMC offers an excellent, American Canoe Certified class that is very thorough yet inexpensive. It is a good idea to have a rescue PFD for the class but not entirely necessary. The classes are typically taught May/June. The class I took was in Vail and taught by Mike Mather, who was an excellent instructor. A good idea for getting the most out of the course is to buy and watch the video "Whitewater Self Defense" several times beforehand as well as read applicable sections of Bechtal and Ray's River Rescue Manuel so you can walk into the course with a good foundation of knowledge, solid expectations, and perhaps some specific questions. Good luck.
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Old 12-03-2004   #4
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Bill Dvorak's SWR class is good. I took it three seasons ago and we spent almost the entire first day talking abou theory and knots and then spent the next two days getting our asses beat by the river bed as victims and rescuers . The focus of the class was rafting issues. From what I know, Dvorak will taylor the class to the needs of the group. Give his office in Nathrop a call and plan on freezing your ass off sometime in mid may. You don't need a rescue vest for the class. You can trade with someone in the class if you want to try one out. Definitely try out a few and think about some of the safety issues of having one. I use one as a comercial raft guide, but find that for kayaking, it's more of a pain in my ass than actually useful. Probably the most useful feature is the cow tail for rescuing boats and paddles when I'm working with new kayakers.
I was working on a flat tax proposal and I accidentally proved there's no god.
-Homer Simpson

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Old 12-06-2004   #5
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 490
I took mine at CKS out of Silverthorne and it was very Kayak-focused, which is what I wanted. Yes, get a rescue vest otherwise some of the excercises you practice in class can't be done. You'll need it anyway. There's a bunch for sale on this website now that are cheaper than a brand new one.
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Old 12-06-2004   #6
Join Date: Dec 2003
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swiftwater rescue

I recommend Mike Mather as an ACA swiftwater instructor, whether you take a CMC class where he is the instructor, or one he is doing independently. He has a strong background both in rafting and kayaking. Wildwater at the Gauley should know how to contact him.

If you want a rescue vest, check out the Astral Aquavest 300R. Its effective, fits a variety of folks very well, and is easy to adjust when you put it on.

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Old 12-07-2004   #7
Bend, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 56
Almost forgot - Crib cards make an excellent addition to any rescue class. Both NRS and AW make a set but the AW is more comprehensive, covering both rescue and extrication as well as additional issues such as Survival techniques, CPR, Basic First Aid, Rescue Signals, how to deal with shoulder dislocation in the field, and more. Both are available on the NRS webpage under 'books and videos', not 'safety'. For $16 you can't afford NOT to have them. Other good safety/rescue reading to do before, during, and after the class is any and all River Safety Reports and River Safety Anthology, both by Charlie Walbridge and both available from the American Canoe Association. Check their website Reading about death is not the most fun way to pass time, but learning from others' mistakes will help keep you and the people you boat with alive.

Paddle safe - Scott
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Old 12-08-2004   #8
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 6
Montana Surf Kayak School is offering a swiftwater rescue course May 21-24 in Bozeman Montana. This course will encompass most general river rescue skills, though the emphasis of the class will be on kayak specific rescue simulations. Students who pass the final evaluation will receive a internationally recognized certification from IRIA and Special Rescue Group Associates. This course is a step up in intensity and content from most Rescue III courses. Any paddler out their can benefit from this class no matter what your skill level is. Contact if you are interested.

Paddle Safe!!!!

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