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Rescue for River Runners: Ep. 1: Getting Started

VideoApril 30, 2013

R3: Rescue for River Runners goes beyond the basics to cover all aspects of the swiftwater rescue playbook. Renowned safety expert Jim Coffey is the host, and the information is presented clearly and filmed in realistic locations and scenarios. This episode covers the gear you need to have with you, including rescue life jacket, protective apparel, throw bags, rescue hardware, first aid kit and communication devices.

From our lawyers: The series is a supplement to, not a substitute for, hands-on training classes. In addition to the skills learned in that hands-on swiftwater training, you need to have the proper equipment for safety on the water.


Good water shoes are essential. They need to have grippy soles for maneuvering on slippery rocks and be sturdy for bushwhacking portages and possible emergency hike-outs. Sufficient thermal protection like HydroSkin, wetsuits, dry tops, dry pants and drysuits is very important, for paddling comfort and also because water rescue may require you spend lots of time in cold water. A helmet liner and good gloves are also a good idea.

Safety Gear

You’ll need a good helmet, one that fits well and protects the front and sides of the head. A specialized rescue life jacket with a quick-release rescue belt is an essential part of your rescue gear. The jacket color should be eye catching and it should have good pockets and attachment points for securing gear you want with you at all times. On, or in, the jacket you’ll want a knife, whistle, and things like emergency first aid gear and snacks. There are a number of good choices for a rescue throw bag with floating rope. A kayak un-pin kit will include locking carabiners, pulleys, prusik cord and tubular webbing.

With the proper apparel and safety gear you’re ready to hit the water with confidence. Enjoy the rest of the Rescue for River Runners series!