About Us

Our Story

"We were sitting in an eddy on the Snohomish River in northern Washington, trying to recover from getting trashed in a set of Class IV rapids ... when a girl swam past with a big smile, a boogie board, and a set of flippers," says Walter Bucher, settling into one of his favourite pastimes: telling a story.

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"Needless to say, we were all highly impressed and peeled out of the eddy to watch her swim the next drop."

This chance meeting in 1982 was the genesis of Raven. The "swimmer" was Chris Jonasen, a hard core whitewater paddler from the US who was one of Rescue 3 International's -- and therefore the world's -- first swiftwater rescue instructors. 

Bucher was interested to learn that this fledgling training organization was looking for accomplished whitewater paddlers to become instructors. Jonasen had already signed on and encouraged Bucher to do the same. He was part of Rescue 3's second-ever class of swiftwater instructors.


Rescue 3 International

As Bucher discovered, Rescue 3 International had been born a few years earlier in response to the rapid growth of the whitewater rafting industry in California. "It was the latest, greatest recreational activity and people were flocking to the rivers ... but too many of them weren't coming home. There were no safety standards, and to make matters worse, no one knew how to perform a safe rescue without getting in trouble themselves. Emergency responders were using tried-and-true methods and equipment that worked on land, or in climbing, but which created major hazards in moving water. The would-be rescuers were drowning themselves."

A group of concerned water professionals came together, including the late swiftwater "pioneer" Jim Segrestrom and a "Who's Who" of emergency responders, lifeguards, and educators to create the world's very first swiftwater rescue course. Then they turned to the rivers to find highly-skilled paddlers who could teach it. 

"Years later, that's still the model," says Bucher. "Rescue 3 identifies a safety opportunity in a high risk environment and then consults a wide range of professionals to develop a course curriculum designed to mitigate the risks. Then we recruit the "go to" experts in that discipline to become the world's best teachers."


The Roots of Raven Rescue

Raven grew slowly at first. In the beginning Bucher taught a couple of swiftwater courses a year, mostly to fellow paddlers in northwestern British Columbia. Word-of-mouth did the rest. Soon Bucher began to get requests from across BC. Supervisors in emergency response, resource managment and industry were responding to new federal legislation that made them personally responsible for ensuring their personnel had the training and equipment they needed to do their jobs safely. 

To meet client needs, Bucher concentrated on developing a network of the very best instructors in the business. "When we develop instructors, we identify an area in which we have strong demand, and find the best person for the job," describes Bucher.  "That way, our clients get the best instruction in the industry, and our instructors are guaranteed a good income."

"People must have liked what I was doing because word travelled," said Bucher. In fact, news of Rescue 3's courses was spreading beyond North America, and Rescue 3 sent Bucher to teach in Japan, South Africa, Sweden and Italy.

Back at home, Raven was growing quickly, and so Bucher enlisted the support of his new wife Amy to handle the administrative side. "I married her because she could type fast and was super-organized," he teases. Her background in education, public relations and journalism didn't hurt either.

Together, they slowly turned Bucher's part time hobby into a full time job for the both of them. "Our formula was simple: we answered the phone, we listened to what our clients needed from us, and we sent their paperwork. In other words, we gave them excellent value for money," says Amy. "Our dedication to customer service vaulted us way ahead of other trainers."

Rescue 3 kept track of Raven's success and in 2000, they asked Bucher to become their Official Agent for Western Canada.

"From the very beginning, Walter was dedicated to the highest standard of safety, professionalism and client service," says Mike Turnbull, President of Rescue 3 International. "He has been instrumental in developing our reputation as the world leader in the technical rescue training industry."


Raven Rescue Meets WAVE

In his new role, Bucher met Ron Morrison of Western Adventure Education (WAVE) based in Edmonton, Alberta who also taught Rescue 3's swiftwater program. The two of them were struggling to keep up with the increasing demand for their courses, and realized that together, they could serve the Western Canadian market more efficiently.

"We combined our operations under the Raven banner and haven't looked back," says Morrison. "This wouldn't have been possible unless we were wired the same way in terms of high standards and a professional approach."

Both Amy and Walter agree that Ron combines the best of the both of them. "He has both the operational and administrative perspective needed to oversee all aspects of what we do," says Amy.  "He has a diverse background in the military, outdoor and experiential education, USAR, and risk management ... and understands the type of formal documentation required to provide a firm foundation for everything we do. And given that he's the future of Raven, that's the perfect combination."


New Additions: Industrial Clients and Equipment Sales

"To begin with, we were focussed on a rescue perspective for clients in emergency response or outdoor adventure. However, we began to hear from new clients for whom rescue was not their primary role. Rather, their priority was preventing accidents from occurring in the first place by learning new safe work procedures for challenging work environments. This required a different approach," says Morrison.

In response, Raven developed a separate stream of courses that addressed OSH requirements, including certification courses in motorized and non-motorized boat operations, surface ice, wilderness medical, confined space, tower rescue, and structural collapse.

Retail equipment sales soon followed. "We've always provided advice on what would work best for a client given their particular needs, but our clients wanted us to sell it to them too. They didn't want to create a new relationship with an unknown supplier. They trusted our advice. And so we listened ... and we grew," says Bucher.


Raven Goes Canada-Wide

In 2009, Rescue 3 asked Raven to add Eastern Canada to its list of responsibilities. "We realized that no other company was providing the range of courses, equipment and services that we could," said Morrison. "But I grew up in Ontario, and I knew that eastern clients would want to deal with an eastern office, and so we opened one. Our regional manager is Dan Kirvan from Ottawa Fire who understands the needs of our eastern clients, but we still oversee the curriculum and set the standards across Canada."

As a result, the cadre of instructors has also grown steadily to meet the increasing demand in the expanded range of courses. Raven now has more than 50 instructors and an equal number of rescue technicians spread from coast-to-coast-to-coast. 


The New Raven: Rescue Safety Medical

Most recently, Raven has launched three separate divisions to cater to rescue, safety and medical client needs. The parent company will soon be known as RavenRSM.

  • R stands for a rescue-based approach to training, equipment and services tailored to the specific needs of emergency responders with a rescue mandate.
  • S stands for a safety based approach to training, equipment and services for industrial and resource management clients who must meet OSH workplace standards.
  • M stands for medical - an approach to training, equipment and services that reflects the needs of clients who are responsible for extended patient care in remote or challenging environments. 

Now in his early sixties, Bucher is comfortable in his new role as the patriarch of a growing and diversifying family. "It's my role to provide the 'care and feeding' for our personnel," he says. "Our personnel need regular professional development to keep us on the leading edge of everything we do, but they also need to know that they're highly appreciated for the incredible contribution they make to our company and our reputation. The 'whole' is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. And I want to keep it that way." 

Our Approach

What we do isn't what sets us apart - it's how we do it.

From our technical training and equipment sales to our standby rescue and safety services, our approach has set the industry standard. All others strive to reach the bar that we've set.

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We are a full-service training, equipment, and safety service provider - when we look at your needs, we look at them in terms of the bigger picture.

Much of the training delivered by Raven Rescue is developed and certified by Rescue 3 International - the global leader in technical rescue training. We are the Official Agent for Rescue 3 in Canada. Through our affiliation with Rescue 3, we are able to provide certifications that are NFPA compliant - the standard-of-care in Canada and around the world.

We also provide custom courses through Raven Safety that are tailored to the unique needs of clients in industry, resource management, exploration and guiding who are governed by OSH standards.  

Raven Medical leads the industry in first aid training for remote environments - from military personnel and outdoor adventurers, to resource workers, Raven Medical clients are prepared to thrive through challenges.

We encourage clients to focus on learning and improving skills within their reach by embracing our challenge by choice philosophy. This allows clients to opt out of any part of training that feels beyond their ability level and results in a level of certification that reflects their individual abilities.

And once you've obtained your certification, we make it easy to keep skills sharp and meet OHS requirements for annual practice with our free audit program for individuals, or our training maintenance program for groups.

And all this training isn't worth much if it can't be verified - so we provide extensive records of training with unparalleled documentation and even ID cards with QL codes that can be checked with any smart phone.

In keeping with our multi-faceted approach, our equipment sales are not limited to a few lines of gear. Whether you've come Raven Rescue, Raven Safety, or Raven Medical, We're in the unique position of being able to recommend the best equipment for your needs from our wide range of major equipment suppliers.

And if training and gearing up isn't the right solution, you can hire our certified, insured professionals to manage your standby rescue and safety needs. Our standby rescue technicians can work as a stand-alone resource, or in cooperation with an existing safety team.

We are a one-stop-shop that meets client needs for training, equipment and services in challenging environments.

Our Instructors & Technicians

As first responders, outdoor, or medical professionals, Raven instructors are constantly using the skills they teach.

Our Staff

With combined backgrounds in field work, adminstrative management, professional firefighting, sales and marketing, guiding, emergency medical response, and public relations, our staff are a tour de force ... and we're all at your service.

Our Clients

Our long list of clients represent individuals and groups from industry, resource, outdoor adventure and emergency reponse, from both private and public sectors.

Join the Raven Team

Want to be part of the Raven team? Our instructors and standby technicians are the best in Canada. 

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Ravens are some of the most intelligent creatures on the planet.  They are proven problem solvers. They also hold an important place in First Nations history as the bringer of light, which keeps us linked to our company's Northern Canadian roots.

And when people ask us if we rescue ravens, we assure them that they appear to be very capable of taking care of themselves. And that's a good thing, because we're busy enough helping the humans stay safe.


Chris Huovinen
Nipigon River Bridge Crew

Awesome experience! Tim Wheeler is building our comfort level and advancing our skills at an epic pace. My group and I are having nothing but fun while learning the importance of staying focused and aware of the real hazards and dangers of the tasks at hand. Thanks to you all at Raven Rescue for all of this. I feel much safer knowing what I know now, whether at work or at play.

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