Sam Fowlkes
ACA Safety and Rescue Committee Chair
347 Paddlers Trail
347 Paddlers Trail
Sylva, NC  28779
T. 828 586-6563
F. 828 586-9649
Course Outlines
Advanced Swiftwater Rescue

COURSE OVERVIEW:   This workshop is aimed at trip leaders, boaters paddling on more challenging whitewater, and anyone desiring opportunities to develop rescue skills. Critical judgment and rescue awareness, impacting both personal and group safety, are emphasized throughout the course.  Although new skills may be taught, this class focuses on developing judgment and applying skills in rescue scenarios. Scope and content of the course will vary, based upon participant needs, interests and experience.

∑ Reinforce basic rescue skills, including swimming/self rescue, throw ropes, and boat based rescue
∑ Practice skills during multiple scenarios
∑ Refine and extend critical judgment through multiple scenarios
∑ Develop and practice more advanced rope-based and in-water skills

PARTICIPANT QUALIFICATIONS:  Participants should have completed an ACA (or equivalent) swiftwater rescue workshop within the past three years.   Participants should be in good health and overall fitness, possess solid swimming ability, and be comfortable swimming in moving current during river drills. 

Minimum personal equipment for  class:  PFD for whitewater use (rescue PFD strongly recommended), whitewater helmet, protective clothing suitable for extended swimming in cold water, protective footwear, whistle and throw rope.  Additional equipment may be used, depending on the participant’s background and specific course content.

COURSE DURATION:  One or more days (8+ hours)

LOCATION:  A chute of water with deep, clean wave action, well-defined eddy lines and no immediate hazards or risks below.  Ideally, the site should contain class II rapids, although it may be taught on less difficult rapids.  Protected space is needed for on-land work, with adequate shelter for inclement weather.  Sites should be chosen to address participant needs.

I.  Introduction
- Introductions and expectations
- Class overview
- Waivers and medical forms
- Safety plan, “challenge by choice” approach
- Site logistics (bathrooms, food and drink policies, no controlled substances…)
- ACA overview

* The topics listed below are intended as a guideline.  The advanced SWR class focuses on developing critical judgment in more challenging whitewater.  All of the topics listed below do not need to be covered in a particular class.  Some classes may desire (or require) extensive review.  Others may benefit from in-depth coverage of specific topics.  The advanced SWR instructor is expected to modify the class as appropriate, while staying within the broad guidelines established below. 

II.  Review (as needed for the target audience)
1) Rescue philosophy
- rescue priorities and proactive accident prevention

2) Personal equipment
- check condition of personal gear
3) Throw ropes
- practice rope throwing and belaying
- line ferry techniques
4) In-water techniques
- wading, swimming and boat based rescue as applicable to course needs
- in-water techniques in more challenging situations
- boat handling skills

III. Advanced techniques
* The items below will be covered in scenarios and hands-on drills.  All modules do not need to be covered.

1) Anchors and Mechanical Advantage
- Review basic principles and techniques
- Introduce “wrap-pull” anchors
- Introduce 3 point anchors
- Anchors in difficult environments
- Piggyback rigs
- Introduce new MA systems (2:1, 4:1, 6:1 and higher degrees of MA)

2) Rope Techniques
- Review stabilization lines and snag lines and simple cinches
- Introduce and develop cinching techniques
- cinches are slow, complex and dangerous; upstream spotters are essential
- uses include equipment recovery, body recovery and final techniques for entrapments;
some cinches have the potential to cause fatal injuries!
- ideally, cinches are as simple as feasible, releasable after application, and do not crush
- simple cinches, modified J-cinches, Kiwi cinches and modified Carlson cinches

3) Rescue Vest Techniques
- Review and practice multiple vest techniques
- belays, line crossings, towing, V- and direct lowers, live bait rescues, …
Practice live bait rescues in more challenging water

4) Pins and Entrapments
- Apply rope techniques to pinned craft and entrapped victims
- Practice broach and vertical pin escapes

5) Line Crossing and other river crossing techniques
- Zip lines
- Wedges and circles to assist victims
- Boat pendulums and tag lines on boats

6) Boat based rescue
- Recovering swimmers and gear in more challenging water

7) Contact rescues
- Review victim psychology
- Fast, simple, extremely dangerous
- Unconscious victims
- Aggressive victims
- Technique limitations
- In-water C-spine immobilization techniques
- “body sandwich” for deep, quiet water
- crossed wrists for shallower or faster water
- goal is to maintain airway and minimize spine motion
- all movement should be in-line with the spine

8) Rescue management
- Review ICS and introduce new roles
- Implement ICS in prolonged scenarios
- Formal ICS vs. “applied ICS” (what actually happens in most rescues)
- Interactions with professional rescuers
- Evacuation – what happens after the rescue?
- carry out vs. go for help

IV. Wrap up
1) Need for ongoing training
2) Need for first aid and CPR training
3) Future training opportunities

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Advanced Swiftwater Rescue


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