Info on river rescue/swiftwater safety classes? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 05-16-2005   #1
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 41
Info on river rescue/swiftwater safety classes?

In light of the recent event on the Poudre and since we are facing a year with flows the likes of which many of us newer boaters have never seen - can someone provide info on river rescue/swiftwater safety classes here in CO? Who offers them/where? thanks. It's time we all learned to use those throw ropes we carry around and get the capabilities to help our fellow paddlers like those in that group on the Poudre!

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Old 05-16-2005   #2
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 89
Poudre River Kayak and Canoe is offering an ACA Swiftwater Rescue Course June 3-5 in Fort Collins. Visit the Specialty Clinics link at or call 970-493-5720 for more info.
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Old 05-16-2005   #3
N. Wigston's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 557
I teach Swiftwater rescue. I do two day rescue classes for $150 per person. Let me know if you would like to set up a class. 303-809-8942

Nick Wigston
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Old 05-16-2005   #4
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Asheville, North Carolina
Paddling Since: 98
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 211
RMOC in Salida is offering 5 different sections of swiftwater rescue this summer, the 2 day course is about $195. Check out for more info. They have some great instructors and focus on ACA curriculum.

I have taken it from both Rescue 3 and ACA before, but its been a few years. When I took it with Rescue 3 I thought that the curriculum was overwhelmingly geared twoards novice raft guides. I dont like spending 3 hours learning "pig rigs" when we could have been focussing on life/death situations, not stuck rafts. I would like to see a swiftwater class geared towards class V kayaking and creek boating. I dont ever plan to guide rafts and I would rather practice swiftwater with kayakers. I think that rescue/first aid is one of the most important things for ourselves and our boating parteners to know...especially in high water years.
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Old 05-16-2005   #5
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Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 674
How many?


How many people do you need to make the class happen?

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Old 05-16-2005   #6
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 490
Hear! Hear! on the above post about clarifying what you want to learn how to rescue before signing up for a class. I took a great class from CKS awhile back and it was centered around kayaker/swimmer situations and involved a lot of drill practice in the water. They timed everything, too, so we talked a lot about speed and coordination.

Here's a drill to make my point: Hold your breath until you're out of air, now hold your breath 10 seconds longer. How important is 10 seconds?
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Old 05-16-2005   #7
Boulder, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 123
I got my swiftwater rescue training from dvorak
expeditions. It was great!!! I highly recommend it.
here's a link to their swiftwater rescue website.

They are in Nathrop, Colorado and the class is done on
the arkansas.

There are a LOT of different swiftwater courses. Many
are not sanctioned by any governing body and thus vary
in their quality. This one is very high quality and
sanctioned by Rescue 3 which is a nationally
recognized organization for swiftwater courses. ACA courses are great too, or so i've heard.

from the website:
"Rescue 3, the global leader in white water and
swiftwater rescue training, rescue and instruction,
has created nationally certified courses, setting
standards for water and river safety. The Rescue 3
program was developed by active professionals - search
and rescue, paramedics, scuba instructors, lifeguards,
white water rafting guides and outfitters, police and
fire fighters, with among them over 100 years of
cumulative white water experience. The program meets
the requirements of the NFPA 1670 Standard."

I am a rafter (and a raft guide sometimes) as well as a kayaker, so it was good for me to have both kayaking and rafting rescue echniques included. I feel that many of the skills we learned were applicable to both kayaks and rafts. And we did learn techniques on freeing a pinned kayak and a foot entrapped victim, as well as practicing swimming over strainers (hard!!!), rescuing someone stuck on a strainer, rescuing someone whose boat is caught in a lowhead dam, catching eddies while swimming, and swimming out to rescue someone while attached by rope to shore. We also covered vertical pins, tossing throw ropes, flipping rafts, recognizing hypothermia, and more. Yes, we learned pig rigs too. It was 30 hours of class, and I felt like I learned a LOT.

By the way, I'm not a creeker either, I assume creekers may have even trickier rescue situations that I may on my class 3 rivers, so it is possible additional skills are required. But I do think that my class prepared me to handle just about any situation I may encounter.

I aso want to put a plug in for getting Wilderness First Responder certification. I got mine from First Lead (, and another great organization is Wilderness Medicine Institute, which is part of NOLS. is their website. It's a 70-90 hour course and isn't just for trips far in the backcountry. You learn to improvise with the materials on hand (for example making a backboard out of paddles and a throwbag), as well as more traditional medical techniques. I (luckily) haven't had to use it yet for anything other than splinting a broken toe. but I felt like the course was well worth the time and money.

Check it out!!
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Old 05-16-2005   #8
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 19
At the Boulder Outdoor Center, we have a river rescue course set up for July 23 and 24th. If you are interested in a class before that, call the shop, if there is enough intest, we will schedual a class when needed.
303-444-8420 or 800-364-9376
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Old 05-16-2005   #9
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Posts: 557

I Have a 3 person minimum to run a class.

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