River (or flood) rescues represent the second level of technical aquatic rescues - a step above lake   - a step below swiftwater - and considerably below whitewater.  However, even that gentle stream that you can usually wade through, can become a life-threatening force after a sudden downpour.  It's no wonder that we say, every public safety agency should be prepared for a basic river evacuation or rescue.


White Bear's Operations River Rescue utilizes protocols based from shore, or with boat assistance.  It is not a swiftwater/whitewater course.  It does not require skilled boat handling and it does not teach "live bait" rescues with tethered swimmers.  Any department with a modest amount of equipment can become proficient in basic river rescue.

Here's how it works:  This is a a 14 hour class, presented over 2 days.  We begin each day in the classroom, where we discuss the dynamics of moving water, appropriate equipment for river/flood rescue, how to "read" the water for hidden hazards, safety precautions for wading rescues and rigging set-ups for boat assisted rescues.  We use videos to review techniques and analyze actual rescue attempts.  Hands-on exercises prepare students for on-site work.

Following classroom work, we go on site to practice on the water.  Accuracy with a throw bag is stressed.  Department members learn how to effectively use a variety of rigging setups for boat assisted rescues.  Students who participate in survival swim / self-rescue exercises receive Operations level certification.  Shore only participation is Awareness level.

PPE:  All participants must supply own Type III (vest style) pfd.  Operations level students must supply their own wet or drysuit, water helmet, water gloves, water shoes and throwbag.


Scott Rieckmann 


Pioneer Rescue & Outfitters