Canoe ~ Kayak ~ SUP ~ Raft ~ Rescue

Swiftwater Rescue

In 1983, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission set up the Pennsylvania Water Rescue, now the largest non-profit public water rescue training program in the US. For 45 years, Charlie Walbridge has innovated many swiftwater rescue techniques, at times the head of the American Canoe Association and American Whitewater Safety Chairman. And you? You could learn from the best. Swiftwater is fun, but dangerous. Knowing the basics of rescue is essential for yourself and others. Training puts the necessary knowledge in the noggins of paddling club members, first responders, whitewater employees, and any avid boater. Many opportunities, such as Charlie Walbridge and the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, are contacted rather than have set dates for training. Companies like WhiteCap, however, have a schedule of their training opportunities. Secure yourself with the Swiftwater Rescue essentials and be prepared for the scary days on the water.

Swiftwater Rescue with Steve BarberSteve Barber ACA PA Director 25

If you’re interested in attending one of my Swiftwater Rescue Clinic fantastic! It’s a great way to learn some skills that will always come in handy on the river and off. I’ve been boating since 1994 and have worked in the whitewater industries of Fayette County West Virginia on the New and the Gauley from 1996 – 2005. I later moved to Fayette County Pennsylvania and have worked in the whitewater industry from 2006 – present. During my time in West Virginia working at Wildwater Expeditions Unlimited  I participated in yearly courses taught by Mike Mather, Eric Autenreith and Rob Dobson. After moving to Fayette County Pennsylvania I took yearly swiftwater rescue courses from Charlie Walbridge during my time working with Ohiopyle Trading Post and River Tours. I received my Level 4 Swiftwater Rescue Instructor Certification from Charlie Walbridge in 2006 and have been teaching classes and current in my instructor certifications until present. If you would like to learn more about me you can click here.

Course Outlines

Level 3 One Day Course 7-9 hours.

Level 3 Swiftwater ACA Rescue Classroom Outline

Recommended for Club Boaters or Intermediate Boaters



Level 4 Two Day Course 14-18 hours

Level 4 Swiftwater ACA Rescue Classroom Outline

Recommended for Club Boaters that have passed Level 3, Whitewater Guide Staff, Advanced Boaters



Class Waivers need to be downloaded, filled out and brought to class to be collected.

Adult Waiver

Youth Waiver

Pay for your Swiftwater Rescue Class Online.

There needs to be 5 paid students to have a class.

Choose Level 3 or 4 Swiftwater Rescue Class Payment

Check the Events Calendar for more Swiftwater Rescue Clinics or just awesome events going on.


Swiftwater Rescue Sites

Swifwater Rescue with Mike Mather – This is one of the best instructors I know. I was able to work with Mike for years at Wildwater Expeditions Unlimited and went through many courses with him. He is the best.

Whitewater Rescue – This is ACA rescue chief Sam Foukes site, full of teaching tips.

CFS – Slim Ray’s site sells his books and archives many of his articles.

Wayne Sundmacher’s Swiftwater RESCUE Site – Take a course from Charlie Walbridge’s co-author!

Mike Mather’s Rescue Site – get in touch with one of today’s top instructors.

Rescue III International – The leading training program for first responders.

Rescue Source – Well-known swiftwater rescue gear supplier.

NRS Rescue – Their special river rescue catalogue.

Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission Swiftwater Rescue Courses-Training since 1983 and one of the largest training programs in the country.

WhiteCap Water Rescue Training-Schedule available online.

Northeast PA Kayak School Swiftwater Rescue-Training with Mike Mather.

ACA Swiftwater Rescue Symposium 2013

In 2013 I attended an ACA Swiftwater Rescue Symposium in Dillsboro, NC on the Tuckaseegee River with presenters such as: Les Bechdel, Charlie Walbridge, Slim Ray, Mike Mather, Jim Coffey, Walter Felton, Aaron Peeler, Justin Padgett, Will Leverette, Sam Fowlkes, Robin Pope, Dave Kesserman, Tom Burroughs, Fritz Orr, Virgil Chambers and Pam Dillion.


ACA Swiftwater Rescue Conference – Aerial Video Highlights Reel from Airlift Films on Vimeo.


Watch Swiftwater Rescue Videos I’ve Created

Facebook Stream

1 week ago

ACA - Pennsylvania

Free flowing rivers are good for paddlers too!What if your river (and all rivers) flowed freely from source to sea? This video production may change your perception and perspective of the role your river plays in ecosystem health.

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4 weeks ago

ACA - Pennsylvania

Your ACA-PA Deputy Director made a splash tonight!Four years ago, our Mighty Susquehanna called me back home. I had been living in upstate New York for 17 years, initially in a log cabin in the Adirondacks (trust me on this, that is not as idyllic as it sounds, that one’s now off the bucket list) and then later in the Catskills in the hippy-dippy-free-spirited town of New Paltz.

As I would journey home to my family in Hershey and travel next to our Susquehanna, she would talk to me, nudge me, splash me a bit, and remind me of our connection. I grew up loving this river. I could read her rapids like some people read books.

In 2015, she summoned me back to Pennsylvania to be her voice, and for the past four years, I could think of no job I’d rather be doing than be her Keeper.

I am honored to accept this award ... but not just for me. It belongs to each and everyone of us.

Someone once said that it takes a village to raise a child. I propose that it takes a watershed to raise a river, especially one as wild and unpredictable as this one.

So thank you to everyone here who partnered with me and Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association to amplify the voice. We are being heard.

Thank you to my Board of Directors who never know if they should rein me in or cast me back out. (I suggest the latter.)

Thank you to our funders and sponsors and donors who believe in and believed in us, even when we were just a nonprofit concept on a piece of paper.

Thank you to our river explorers — on our Floating Classroom uncovering science, inside helping me to write the next book for young river stewards, and even in our prisons creating future community leaders.

Next time you’re by the river, take a moment and glance at your reflection as she flows by. Congratulate that person in nature’s mirror. Together, all of us made a difference these past four years. Together, as the MEN AND WOMEN of the Susquehanna, we’ll BE the difference for the next four years and beyond.

The river says thank you. And I do too. Thank you for this recognition.

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ACA Videos

River Links

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