What did you do this weekend? Chilliwack Search and Rescue hosted the annual Swiftwater Symposium: Swiftwater Regional Training, July 15-17, 2016. The event saw 10 Search and Rescue Teams from across BC travel to Chilliwack to take part in team and individual training, practice and sharing of ideas.

Saturday morning had members training in the use of rafts and kayaks. Members had the opportunity to guide, oar and kayak through a class 2-3 whitewater section of the Chilliwack River which included a fire drill and chasing dummies down through rapids. In the afternoon the true competitions started. The first event was a swim course in which highly trained Swiftwater Technicians had to swim through a class 3 section and catch 5 eddies along the way. Not only that, but it was timed! Those newer to Swiftwater Technical Rescue competed in a similar challenging swim course in which they had to maneuver through down-river kayaking gates just like slalom kayaking. A throw bag challenge wrapped up the individual competitions and then the team scenarios started.  Each team was a mixture of all the groups as a way to enhance relationships for mutual aid call-outs. Finally, at the end of the day, the entire group worked together in a live scenario to rescue a raft crew stuck in the river.

In total the event saw 23 Search and Rescue volunteers out practicing and enhancing their skills. The event was started as a way for members to maintain training hours within Search and Rescue. Each swiftwater certified member must maintain between 6-20 hours of training each year to stay current. These training hours are on top of those also needed in Ground Search, Rope Rescue, Helicopter Rescue, Search Dogs, Tracking, Boat, Avalanche and First Aid.

Thanks to Adam Laurie and his wife Sandy for organizing the weekend’s training and meals. Thanks as well to Chilliwack SAR and BCSARA for funding the event, and to Rescue Canada, Force 6 Safety Products, Mt. Waddington’s Outdoors, Valhalla Pure, and Western Canoeing and Kayaking for donating prizes.

Check out some photos from the weekend’s events on Swiftwater Symposium Facebook page.

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