FAQs & Resources

How do I prepare for a swiftwater course?

Q.  How is the course organized?

  • Swifwater Awareness - 4 hours in a classroom
  • Swiftwater Operations - 1 day in a classroom, 1 day on the river
  • Swiftwater Rescue Technician (Level One) - 1 day in a classroom, 2 days on the river
  • Swiftwater Rescue Technician (Advanced) - 1 day in the classroom, 2 days and 1 night session on the river
  • Rescue from Vehicles in Water - 1 day on the river
  • Rescue for River Runners - 2 days on the river
  • Rescue for River Runners Pro - 2 days on the river
  • Stand Up Paddleboard Safety & Rescue (Flatwater) - 1 day on a lake
  • Stand Up Paddleboard Safety & Rescue (Swiftwater) - 2 days on the river

Q.  How long does the course run each day?

Courses run approximately 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. with a break for lunch. The exceptions are:

  • Swiftwater Awarenss which is only 4 hours in length
  • Swiftwater Rescue Technician (Advanced) which also includes a night session that runs approximately from 9 p.m. - 1 a.m

Q:  Do I have to attend the whole course?

100% attendance is required to receive certification.

Q.  Will I get a confirmation that the course is going ahead?

Approximately 7-10 days before the course, you will receive an email to confirm details such as classroom location, start time, the instructor’s name and contact information for any last minute issues.

Q.  What do I need for the course?

  • Be prepared for note-taking
  • We recommend a full wetsuit or drysuit (goretex drysuits available for rent from Raven Rescue)
  • Water-rescue or paddling helmet (provided on request - at no charge)
  • PFD (lifejacket) - Type III or V (provided on request - at no charge)
  • A full change of clothing
  • A towel

Additional gear needed for Swiftwater Advanced:

  • Rescue harness (full body harness or both a chest harness and a sit harness - available for rent from Raven Rescue)
  • Headlamp (waterproof is best) or a waterproof flashlight

Additional gear needed for Rescue for River Runners courses:

  • The boat you regularly paddle in

Additional gear needed for Stand Up Paddleboard courses:

  • Paddleboard
  • Paddle

Q.  I’m renting equipment from Raven Rescue. When and where do I get it?

The instructor will provide rental gear on Day 1. Charges will apply if equipment is lost or damaged. Please follow instructions for putting on and taking off gear.

Q: What do I wear under a drysuit?

  • Fleece, wool or “wicking” pants and top
  • Fleece, wool or “wicking" socks
  • NO COTTON as it gets cold and wet quickly

Q: What kind of footwear do I need?

  • Neoprene boots with a good walking sole, or
  • Old running shoes that are a bit big so they fit over the drysuit socks (these work great), or
  • Fishermen’s wading boots (felt-bottom)

Q: Are there any nice extras to bring?

  • Neoprene gloves - not required, but nice
  • Gear bag to keep your stuff organized
  • Garbage bag for your wet stuff

Q: Is pre-reading required?

No pre-reading is needed.

Q: Are meals included?

You are responsible for your own food. Please bring:

  • Lots of drinking water
  • Hot drink in a thermos (optional)
  • A good lunch and snacks as needed

Q.  What if I’m scared of performing the skills on the course?

While getting banged and bruised or cold and wet is not outside the realm of possibility during a technical rescue training course, in order to receive a certification you are not required to do anything you are uncomfortable with. Raven Rescue recognizes that caution and knowing personal limits is a sign of a good rescuer. Therefore, our approach is “Challenge by Choice.” If you wish to observe a specific activity only, please advise the instructor immediately. This will be noted on your skill sheet and should be shared with your supervisor. However, this also means that if you cannot demonstrate knowledge of key skills, your certification may be downgraded to the appropriate level by the Instructor.

Q.  What kind of paperwork do I receive?

  • A certificate of completion
  • A wallet card with date of expiration
  • A personalized skill sheet (training record) documenting the skills & knowledge you performed or observed. You should give a copy of this to your supervisor as it is proof you have taken the course. Keep your copy in a safe place.
  • Registration in the student database so that your credentials can be verified with a phone call or email
  • Course text

Q.  How long is my certification valid?

Certification is valid for three years from date of issue. We offer discounted rates for re-certification as long as your certification is still valid when you register.

Q. I've heard I can audit for free?

Anytime during the three-year period that your certification is valid, you are welcome are to audit the same course -- for free -- to practice and refresh your skills. We'll even sign your skill sheet to prove you've been practicing your skills. This does not take the place of a re-certification, as it does not extend the length of your certification.


Feb 20-23

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Feb 23-27

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Wouldn’t you know it, last night at midnight we had a jumper off the bridge. The boy’s had him in the boat within minutes. Thanks to the training you provided us with, the call was very successful [7 hours after his department completed a Motorized Swiftwater Boat Operator course.]


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