Whitewater Safety and Rescue

ACA L4 Swiftwater Rescue Course 2 Day Class

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The Swiftwater Rescue workshop teaches recognition and avoidance of common river hazards, execution of self-rescue techniques, and rescue techniques for paddlers in distress. Emphasis is placed both on personal safety and on simple, commonly used skills. Fundamental and more advanced techniques for dealing with hazards that carry greater risks for both victim and rescuer, such as strainers, rescue vest applications, entrapments, and pins, also are practiced. Scenarios will provide an opportunity for participants to practice their skills both individually and within a team/group context.

Topics Covered:

  1. Hydrology
  2. Rescue Organization
  3. Communication
  4. Entrapment/Extrication
  5. Stranded swimmers
  6. Self-Rescue Techniques
  7. Mechanical Advantage


Because of the risk inherent in any whitewater or river activity, we want to make sure you are aware of these risks and acknowledge them prior to the class. We may be walking along slippery rocky shorelines, swimming in cold whitewater, and working with ropes and rescue equipment in very realistic scenarios. If a river rescue or safety class is to be effective and give students whitewater experience and hands-on training, it is not going to be safe. In order for our instructors to provide realistic training with challenges that simulate actual rescue conditions, we recognize there is always the chance that someone is going to get injured.  All of this involves risk, and we will try our best to manage risk in a way that creates a balance between the risk students are exposed to and the levels of challenge presented during the training.

This is a skills class where will be expected to demonstrate the ability to perform some specific skills we cover in the course, such as defensive and aggressive swimming, throw bagging, live bait, z-drags, etc. .

We encourage you to chat or message us if you have any questions concerning safety. We are proud of our safety record and know that our instructors do not achieve this alone, it takes the help of our students.

Location : Lock 5, C&O Canal

Date: October 28-29, 2023 

Time: 9am-5pm

Minimum Required Gear :

  • PFD (A Rescue PFD is advised but not mandatory), whitewater helmet, protective clothing suitable for extended swimming in cold water, protective footwear, boat, paddle, whistle, throw rope (50 foot minimum), 15+ feet of one inch tubular nylon webbing, and 2 locking carabiners, river knife (with blunt tip)

Swiftwater Rescue