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Course Description

If you plan to spend time traveling on rivers, you need to be prepared. Fast-paced and hands-on, this one and a half day course is an introduction to the systems and skills utilized during swiftwater rescue operations.

On this course you’ll learn how to prepare for the unexpected. RRT’s 1.5 day SRF curriculum includes many advanced topics that are often left out of short courses including live bait rescues, mechanical advantage for raft rescue and entrapment rescue. In just one and a half days, you’ll get practice in the basic knowledge, skills and ability to help make sound decisions and perform efficient river rescues.

This course is ideal for recreational boaters, river guide crew members, and those wishing to refresh their rescue skills. There will be a balance of classroom instruction, practical demonstrations and time to practice skills.

Course Focus

  • Hazard awareness and accident prevention
  • Rescuer safety and self-rescue
  • Efficient rescue skills with basic equipment
  • Rescue skills appropriate for recreational boaters and guides


  • No prior swift water or wilderness medicine experience required
  • Basic swimming ability is required
  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • Must have adequate health insurance


A certificate of completion is issued to students that successfully complete this course.

Student to Instructor Ratio

8:1 in the field

Time Commitment

12 hours: 3-hour morning classroom/dry land session, plus one full day in the field.

Sample Schedule

(the schedule of your actual course could vary, contact for questions about your course schedule)

Day 1
1800 Introductions,paperwork,logistics
1830 River rescue philosophy
1915 Throw bags
2030 Keeping warm and personal protective equipment
2100 Done!
Day 2
0830 Knots and Shore-based anchors
0915 Boat based anchors
0945 Mechanical Advantage systems
1030 Suit up and prepare to swim
1100 Swimming-defensive,aggressive,swiftwater entries
1200 Throw ropes/belaying
1300 Live bait rescues
1400 Entrapment Drill
1530 Wading
1600 Strainer drill
1700 Done!

Gear List

The first morning or evening will be classroom- and dryland-based. Bring a notebook or a camera or whatever helps you to learn. We will also be covering appropriate river equipment and it would be helpful for you to bring your personal equipment you plan on using in the field so we can discuss various options and make sure everyone is appropriately prepared.

Come prepared on the second day for a full day of being outside in cold and wet conditions- there will be extensive practice time in the river.

Students are required to bring the following items:

  • Insulation for swimming in cold whitewater!! A full river drysuit is ideal. Other options are a dry top and bottom, or a full wetsuit. At an absolute minimum a farmer john wetsuit, synthetic upper layers and a splash top (you’ll be much colder than the folks in drysuits). SCUBA drysuits will not work.
  • Synthetic long underwear or other insulating layers to wear under drysuit.
  • Lightweight water or kayak helmet. (Please NO climbing, cycling helmets, etc.)
  • PFD- USCG approved Type III or V with river boating listed as an intended use on the label. If you have own or have access to a type V PFD with a releasable rescue harness, please bring it.
  • Thick-soled water booties or tennis shoes. Must be closed-toe, no sandals please.
  • Optional: Neoprene gloves and skull cap or balaclava, whistle, river knife, throw bag, flip line, spray pants, carabiners, prusiks, etc.
  • Here are a few resources for gear:

  • The University of Utah Outdoor Recreation Program has many rental items available.
  • There are several local stores in Salt Lake City which have equipment for rent and sale. One to check out is Wasatch Touring. Another is Utah Whitewater Gear (they are also now renting drysuits).
  • Here are a few shops that have had dry suits available for rent in the past. Spring is the busy season for drysuit rentals, so don’t wait until the last second.

  • Pacific River Supply: (510) 223-3346 or
  • Kayak Academy
  • Immersion Research Drysuit Rentals
  • The River Store
  • 4Corners Riversports
  • Utah Whitewater Gear (they're local!)
  • Logistics

    The first day of the course generally meets in the Stewart building at the University of Utah: 270 S 1400 E.  As we get closer to the course, an instructor will contact you with specific location information and directions.

    The second day of the course is a full field day, which will take place within a 1-hour drive of Salt Lake City. The exact location will be announced on the first day, as it will be dependent on water levels and weather.


    Course fee payment in full is required to reserve your spot in the course. Course fees are payable by credit card on the Umarket website which can be found by clicking on the dates of the course you are interested at The course fee covers syllabus, group equipment and instruction. RRT is not obligated to allow any student to attend a course until all RRT paperwork has been received, reviewed and approved by RRT. A full refund will be given if we are forced to cancel the course for any reason.

    Cancellation and Refund Policy

    If a student cancels or withdraws from a course:

  • Greater than or equal to 30 days prior to the course starting date, RRT will retain a $35.00 administrative fee.
  • Within 30 days of the course start date and once the course has begun, course fees are non-refundable for the Swiftwater Rescue Fundamentals Course
  • RRT Student Waiver

    Download the waiver form here and read it very carefully as it affects your legal rights.

    Bring the two-page signed document to the first day of the course. Failure to provide a completely filled out and signed document will result in you not being able to participate in the course. Any activities during unsupervised free time throughout the course are not part of the RRT program and are at the sole risk of the participant.

    Course Policies

    PETS ARE NOT ALLOWED AT THE COURSE. THIS INCLUDES LEASHING THEM OUTSIDE. NO EXCEPTIONS. Any student bringing pets to class will be asked to leave class until the pet is safely situated in a kennel or other facility.


    Attendance is required at all sessions. Students who miss any sessions may not be permitted to continue with the course.

    We hope this information is helpful. Please contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.