Swiftwater Rescue for Fieldwork 

Hands-on safety training for working around rivers

Get swiftwater rescue training and certification for your group. Learn through professional instruction specific to conservation officers, scientists, fisheries staff, and those who work in natural resource management around rivers. Gain knowledge, skills, and confidence through hands-on practice

Our instructors can travel to you or we can host you at one of our training sites. The course will be customized to meet the needs of your organization and the type of fieldwork that you do.

These courses are for groups. As an individual, you can join a 2-day Whitewater Rescue (WWR) or 4-day Whitewater Rescue Technician (WRT) course.

Course options

  • Swiftwater Safety Level I - 1 day
  • Swiftwater Rescue Levels I & II - 2 days 
  • Swiftwater Rescue Technician Levels I, II, & III - 4 or 5 days

Take away materials

  • Waterproof course manual: Whitewater Rescue Field Guide
  • Locking rescue carabiner & 5m of webbing for your rescue kit
  • Certification card (valid for 3 years)
  • Practical evaluation record sheet: documentation for liability protection

What to expect

  • Get hands-on practice with experienced instructors, a great learning environment, and a well-run course
  • Increase your knowledge of the river environment to avoid hazards and work with the water, not against it
  • Practice techniques such as swimmingwading, and throwing ropes to move around the the river, perform self-rescues, and rescue others
  • Gain the tools to carry out effective rescues with limited resources when doing field work
  • Benefit from customized training for your group—tailored to those who do fieldwork in natural resource conservation, fisheries, and scientific research

Pricing for 2-day Swiftwater Rescue (SWR) Levels I & II

• Group of 10 to 11: 369 CAD per student
• Group of 12+: 339 CAD per student

This is the ‘all in’ pricing including instructor travel and expenses. For very remote locations, additional instructor travel costs can apply.

What’s included in a group course?

  • Boreal River Rescue instructors travel to your location or we can help you with logistics if you'd like to use one of the training rivers where we host courses regularly
  • All technical rescue equipment and group safety equipment
  • Information packages for each participant
  • Support for your organization and students before and after the course including consultation, equipment recommendations, planning ongoing training, and maintaining records of your course in our database

Rental equipment available 

  • Drysuit 75 CAD for 2 days
  • Wetsuit (farmer john style) 25 CAD for 2 days
  • PFD - Free
  • Rescue PFD (not mandatory for this course) 35 CAD for 2 days
  • Helmet - Free


  •  General concepts of whitewater and swifwater rescue
  • Personal and group equipment
  • River safety and scene management
  • River signals and communications
  • River features and hydrology
  • Related medical topics: drowning and hypothermia

Basic skills

  • Swimming in moving water: self rescue and whitewater maneuvers
  • Throw ropes
  • Contact rescues
  • Introduction to quick release rescue harness and ‘live bait’ rescue
  • Rescue of panicked subjects
  • Shallow water crossings
  • Knots, anchors, and basic tensioning systems
  • ‘Strainer’ swim

Rescue problems & scenarios

  • Foot entrapment
  • Kayak, canoe, and raft pins and wraps
  • Managing flips and swims
  • Rescue simulations
  • ​Elective topics: working with hip waders, paddle boat handling

While these courses have standardized curriculums, we'll work with you to customize the training and delivery according to your group's needs. Instructors choose training sites and design practice drills that are relevant to your group's type of work and available resources.

See our group training page for more on information on customizing courses and combining swiftwater rescue courses with other training.


Certification is valid for three years from the date of issue. Candidates are recertified by re-taking the 2-day course. An option for organizations seeking more frequent refreshers is an annual 1-day recertification. 


Contact a group training coordinator

"My expectation that we would learn to become more comfortable working with whitewater was met very well. Instructors are excellent. Very enthusiastic & confidence building."

- Tana McDaniel

Environment Canada - Ontario - Scientist & Field Researcher
Whitewater Rescue (WWR) course, 2014

"The instructors were very competent and aware of each individuals' needs. The progression was excellent, providing just the right mix of theory and practice time. Thank you again for the great course."

- Marc Talbot

Coast Guard, Quebec
Swiftwater Rescue Technician (SRT) course, 2011