Swift Water Rescue Training

28 02 2017

swiftWith all the luck of the sky and the mountains, the storms have returned gifting us all with an abundance of sleet, snow pack, and rain drops.  The essence of life.  Thanks to an intricate and unexplainable series of fortunate events, I find myself granted the opportunity to travel into the heart of the forest and mountains; to travel into the river itself.  What’s more is the unexplainable magic of the opportunity to take part in the re-creation of the experience and adventure within the lives of others, from all walks of life, by means of a sea worthy whitewater raft.  Though simple in concept, these adventures and undertakings of which hold the power to shape shift lives and worlds, are also undeniably counterbalanced by the weight of risk.

  This past weekend my employer; The City of Eugene River House Outdoor Center granted me the opportunity to attend a Swift Water Rescue course taught by Marcel Beig of the American Canoe Association.  When I think of what the words Swift Water Rescue mean to me, I am reminded of all of the times I have fallen overboard and gone into the drink.  I am reminded of all of the times I have been fished out of the drink by others, and in turn, all of the times I have gone fishing.  I am reminded of the myriad of complexities within the world beneath the surface and our inherent inability to breathe water.  While keeping in mind all of the countless successes within our circle of enlivened eyes and smiling faces come days end, I am also reminded of every story I have heard spoken that ended in a near miss or worse yet, an unforeseen catastrophe.

The purpose of Swift Water Rescue is to rapidly learn how to avoid, identify, and respond to catastrophe in moving water.  Our instructor teaches us multiple solutions for any given scenario with an emphasis on teamwork and communication.  During this course we review and practice how to cross rivers and rapids without boats.  We learn to rig trees and rocks to enlist their strengths in our undertakings.  We take old world belaying systems into the horizontal realm, and rig ourselves to releasable ropes with which to expediently and efficiently reverse entrapments.

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The opportunity to practice these skills in a non-emergency setting is no doubt a huge gift with the power to do nothing short of saving lives.  I hope with all of my heart that I will never need these skills in waking life, but I will dream and practice them into instinct in the meantime.  I am truly at a loss of words to describe the gratitude in my heart for my employer, my instructor, and to the snow melt itself for taking me under their wings, and sharing with me sound tactics to minimize and counterbalance risk within the heart of Adventure.  Until we cross paths next, may the wind always be at your back.  Except of course when you feel that tingling on the back of your neck and turn to face it steadfast to seize life’s greatest opportunities as they ever so quickly pass us by.

By: Brendan Currie- River House Raft Guide and Tree Climber

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