River Rescue

Teaching River Rescue since 1989.

The course teaches basic rescue skills, including swimming/self-rescue, throw ropes, and boat based rescue.

  • Practice skills during multiple scenarios
  • Refine and extend critical judgment through multiple scenarios
  • Develop and practice more advanced rope-based and in-water skills

Our years of experience, guiding nationally and internationally, plus, our extensive variety of training makes our rescue program one the best and most comprehensive in North America.

We teach the ACA program for river runners, a 2 1/2 day program, for $295.00 CAD.
We teach the Rescue Canada program for people who need IRIA and NFTA certification for $500.00 CAD. This is a 3-day course.


1st course: May 17-19 Whitehorse (Fully Booked)

2nd course: May 25-27 Whitehorse

3rd course: June 8-10 evenings and 12-13 Tatshenshini River


Equipment and wetsuits/dry suits included.
Cost: $295 CAD For ACA or $500 CAD For Rescue Canada Per Person plus GST

Prices are subject to change without notice. 5% GST applicable to all prices.

Rescue History

In 1989, we took our first River Rescue training from CRCA, Canadian Recreation Canoe Association.

In 1991, we brought Les Bechdel, author of 2 River Rescue books and producer of the first River Rescue video, to Whitehorse, Yukon. It was a great way to further our training.

In 1992,we trained with Rocky Mountain Rescue based out of Calgary, Alberta.

In 1995, we trained and became Instructors for Rescue 3 International, a company based in California.

In 2010, we joined Rescue Canada, http://www.rescuecanada.com/

Our Instructor Trainer, Jim Lavalley, is a wealth of Ice and river rescue information. We are proud to teach for Rescue Canada.

In 2011, we joined ACA, American Canoe Association, and became ACA River Rescue instructors. http://www.americancanoe.org/

Our Instructor Trainer, Justin Padgett, taught us the latest techniques for river runners: http://www.landmarklearning.org/


Feel free to read the following article about River Rescue:

From the Rescue Professional
Bob Daffe

Sweepers, strainers, widow makers, logjams, sieve, undercuts, have all the same effects; the water goes through, the spaghetti doesn’t. You are the spaghetti; problem is, if you get pinned underwater, it is bad, really bad. Logs jams and sweepers are made of wood; easier to see, while others are made of stone, like undercut walls or rocks and rock sieves; they blend in the river and are a lot harder to notice.

When moving water hits an object and cannot go through it bounces back, creating what we call a pillow; white foamy water in front of the obstacle. Pillows are soft and friendly, it is almost impossible to get pinned on a pillow and the river usually moves you around the obstacle. Pillows are obvious, easy to see. Under-cuts and rock sieves are not easy to see and are often missed even by the most experienced boaters, because there is no pillow, just flat moving water hitting an obstacle.

In the world of canoeing, kayaking and rafting these river hazards, sweepers, undercuts, are responsible for approximately 30% of fatalities; no wonder they have become a focus of training and river rescue techniques.

Over the years training and rescue techniques have evolved to meet the challenges presented by these obstacles. River rescue is fairly new, (early 1980’s), and over the last few years we have come to realize that techniques we taught in the early days are dangerous or misleading. The classic sweeper swims have students turning on their stomach, swimming aggressively towards a sweeper, usually made of ABS pipe, hitting the pipe at your waist and climbing over. The instructor would ask you if you have felt the force of the river on your leg; probably the only good part of this exercise. If you make this exercise easy and have great success, your students will believe that it is the way to attack a sweeper and go over successfully. It is far from the truth. Sweepers are deadly and should be avoided like the plague.

Having had the benefits of many years of paddling and taking many different rescue courses from various agencies, we have evolved towards more practical and safer techniques. We make our classic, front attach, sweeper swims harder, less than one fit jock will be successful. We show the feet first technique of approaching sweepers and on the same sweeper we will have maybe a 50% success. We also show the feet first, arch your back to go deep under the potential tree branches.

The realities are: If you are swimming you are already out of control; we may never have the chance to switch to aggressive swimming. When you are swimming your visibility is greatly reduced and may not even see the sweeper. It is good for the students to practise this swim. We want them to come out with the same fear we have of sweepers, undercuts and any potential entrapments. The only 100 % success rate we have doing this swim is when we tell students to keep swimming away; don’t give up, don’t look up, keep swimming away as fast and far as you can.

Most sweepers can be avoided by staying on the inside of corners. Don’t go around blind corners until you can see. Know your rivers for potential hazards, some rivers like the Kathleen, Wheaton, Big and Little Salmon are famous for sweepers. If you hit a sweeper or undercut rock, lean hard on the obstacle and take care of yourself first; boats are replaceable. If you are not sure; don’t go first. Go with experienced paddlers. When leading a group don’t go past deadly river obstacles until the rest of your group has cleared it. Don’t swim for canyon walls for fear of undercuts; it is also hard to rescue people near canyon walls. Swim in the middle until it is safer to swim for shore. Scout if not sure.

Don’t forget: wear your life jacket.