Swiftwater & River Rescue
Often, the best whitewater rescue relies on the victim to, in essence, rescue themselves. This is done by talking to them about strategies while they are in danger. Often, it is a simple matter of grabbing hold of an extended rope and being towed to safety. The danger increases when rescue personnel have to enter the water themselves.
Swift Water Rescue Training Materials
Swift water rescue training uses the Incident Command System (ICS), a national protocol that is used for managing US emergencies and the benchmark for disaster management in this country. By using ICS, emergency responders from multiple agencies can work together to craft a solution to whatever rescue operation is at hand, including whitewater rescue.
One of the key elements of whitewater rescue and ICS is a risk algorithm. This formula assesses the various rescue methods for whitewater rescue and determines whether a rescuer will endanger themselves in addition to the victim. This tool helps to determine the best swift water rescue training and tactics in a sometimes stressful situation.
Firefighters Bookstore has put together an excellent collection detailing swift water and river rescue tactics. Some highlights of the collection include:
“Technical Rescuer: Water Levels I and II” covers all five of the sub-disciplines of water rescue as referenced in the National Fire Protection Association 1006 (2008): surface water rescue, ice rescue, swiftwater rescue, surf rescue, and dive rescue. The book also adds a bonus chapter on watercraft. Each chapter starts with a “Lessons Learned” section and ends with “Lessons Revisited,” plus self-testing questions.
“Swiftwater Rescue: A Manual for the Rescue Professional, Revised and Expanded” provides an in-depth look at swiftwater and flood rescue for firefighters, park rangers, and EMS personnel. Topics include basic rescuer safety considerations; river hydrology; equipment; shore-based, boat-based, and in-water rescue techniques; medical considerations; rigging for river rescue; incident command; and swiftwater training. It also covers advanced topics such as the use of helicopters in swiftwater rescue, and special situations such as low-head dams and flood channel rescues.
“Swiftwater and Flood Rescue Field Guide” is a concise aid that covers SOPs, incident size-up, swiftwater rescue code, the hierarchy of rescue responses and other issues. The guide is meant to be used to define best practices in emergency situations.
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