ACA L3 River Safety and Rescue Skills Course

Course Overview

The River Safety and Rescue skill course will teach you how to recognize and avoid common river hazards, execute self-rescue techniques, and simple rescues of paddlers in distress. Emphasis is placed both on personal safety and on simple, commonly used skills. Fundamental techniques for dealing with hazards that carry greater risks for both victim and rescuer, such as entrapments, pins, and strainers also are taught. This course is aimed at whitewater boaters interested in learning fundamental river rescue skills but is also a very good course for recreational boaters who frequent Class I and II rivers and rapids.

Course Objectives

  • Promote proactive prevention of river accidents and injuries.
  • Develop and practice key self-rescue skills.
  • Identify and avoid river hazards by understanding hydrology, hazards, and river features.
  • Focus on fast, low-risk strategies for early management of river accidents.
  • Practice methods for recovering swimmers, and loose boats and equipment.


During this course we will spend time in class I-II moving water. Participants should be in overall good health, a confident swimmer, and able to hold their breath under water.


Each participant must have the following items for class:
  • PFD designed for paddling
  • Whitewater helmet (Provided by CFRA if you do not own one)
  • Protective clothing suitable for extended swimming and standing in the water
  • Protective footwear: Sturdy tight fitting water shoes highly recommended (No bare foot, flip flops, or shoes that will fall off easily)
  • Whistle
  • Throw rope (If you have one already, please bring it, if not then wait until after the class to see which one you really need to buy)
  • Locking Carabiners, 15 Feet of 1" tubular nylon webbing (if you own already, if not then do not purchase until after the class)
  • Optional Boat/paddle (Kayak, Canoe, or Paddleboard with appropriate paddle for your craft)

Personal Care Items

  • Water - As a general rule you should pack a quart of water to drink for every 2 hours you plan on being out on the water. We will be on the water for about 6 of the 8 hours
  • Lunch and Snacks - Please bring a lunch and snacks with you. Bring something easy for you to carry because you may not be near your vehicle during the lunch break.
  • Sunscreen
  • Personal Medications, Glasses, etc. - Please bring any medications that you take during the day or those that you may need for allergies( i.e. EpiPen with Benadryl)
  • Extra Clothing & Equipment - If you typically carry a drybag with extra clothing or equipment on your boat then bring it with you.

Cost and Schedule


9am to 5pm

Meeting at Cape Fear River Trail Park in Erwin, NC
located where Hwy 217 crossed the Cape Fear River , view map .


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