The Essential Swiftwater Gear List
The Swiftwater world is one of the most exciting environments for a rescuer to work in.
It's the only time we're actually out of our element and immersed in an entirely different reality. It's loud, it's fast, it's disorienting, dynamic, often very cold, and risky.
Training is the cornerstone to any swiftwater operation, and we're blessed with a wealth of resources here in Canada. In British Columbia especially, we have some of the best training organizations in the world.
After great training of course, comes great gear, and that's where Coast Ropes comes in. Water rescues can change from safe to scary in a split-second. Proper gear can help mitigate some of the risks.
First and foremost - flotation. Your primary source of buoyancy is your personal flotation device. Fit is the key here. If the PFD is not snug, it will ride up and keep you in a lower position in the water and obscure your vision. We also want our PFDs to allow for a good range of motion and to provide optimum flotation with minimal bulk.
Our favourite for the professional is the Northwater Pro System PFD. This highly adaptable PFD has dozens of add on options and comes in multiple sizes, making this the best option for someone who uses their PFD on a regular basis.
If you're looking for an option that suits a wide range of rescuers, the NRS Rapid Rescuer or Rapid Responder are well suited to the task.
Northwater Pro System PFD
Drysuits are also an invaluable part of the swiftwater kit. We have seen huge improvements in design and materials in the past decade. There are now options for all budgets and specialties. Our SAR customers love the NRS Extreme SAR Drysuits. Built rugged, like our rivers and creeks, the new Extreme SAR will last for years. Feature rich, available in GoreTex and an on-budget 3-Layer TriTon™ version. Reflective elements, cargo pockets, relief zips, internal suspenders, built in waterproof socks make this a top shelf product at a very reasonable price point. For marine rescue, you cannot beat the Ignite by Ocean Rodeo. Its dual purpose designs makes it both a great drysuit and foul weather gear. Designed in Victoria, this suit is loved by many RCMSAR teams across our 25,725 kilometres of BC Coastline. Don't forget to stay warm and dry with a Union Suit from NRS.
NRS Extreme SAR Drysuits
We don't go into any water operation without a throwbag. Made in Vancouver, Northwater Wedge comes in many different rope diameters and lengths. For the fire service, NRS makes an NFPA Approved throwbag. We also provide water rescue rope in multiple diameters to complete your rescue kit. Growing in popularity are rescue rafts, boards and boats, like the made in Canada RIT Craft.
A lot of hardware crosses over from our land based operations to water, but there are a few bits of equipment that are great to have in the cache. Large opening non locking carabiners are easy to open with cold, gloved hands. Swiftwater pulleys help keep your rope system stable in fast moving water. Line launcher systems are used by many teams to get a rope system across a large gap. Many PFDs and throw bags now have elastic loops for glow sticks, and waterproof strobe lights which are essential for low-light operations.
Leave a comment