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Many people choose to raft with a commercial outfitter because they require their guides to have at least basic first aid, CPR, and Swift Water Rescue certifications. Some river guides even have EMT, Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder certifications.
Often on the river, even with satellite phones available, hospitals and ambulances are several hours away. That is why one of the most important things on a river trip is having at least one person who is knowledgeable and experienced in Swift Water Rescue and Wilderness First Aid. There are a number of organizations that offer these courses, and if you are planning to do any private boating, it is highly recommended that you get certified first.
Wilderness First Aid Courses
Wilderness First Aid (WAFA) and Wilderness First Responder (WFR) are 40 and 80 hour courses, respectively, that teach you how to handle emergency situations in remote wilderness settings. They cover everything from hypothermia to making stretchers and splits out of whatever equipment you have available. These courses combine classroom lectures with hands-on scenario experience to make them very fun and extremely educational. They also include a 2 year CPR Certification.
Swift Water Rescue Courses
Swift Water Rescue (SWRT) courses vary in their focus depending on whether they are designed for firefighters or river professionals. In additional to general swift water rescue skills, the courses for firefighters teach how to rescue people out of drainage systems in flood conditions, while river professional courses teach how to unwrap boats and deal with boat flips, “carnage,” and z-rigs.
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Disclaimer: River descriptions and classifications may change due to natural events that may create new hazards or flows. C-W-R advises that any paddler that uses this site be additionally informed by seeking out local news and updates for changes on this river.