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Swiftwater Rescue Technician Course Suddenly Gets Real

Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

National Park News

On Friday, July 12, 2013, while participating in a 40-hour Swiftwater Rescue Technician Certification training course on the Chattahoochee River, Rangers Jay Kolodzinski and James Psillis, along with Supervisory Ranger Sean Perchalski and members of two local fire departments, performed four rescues involving seven visitors.  Due to heavy rains over the last several weeks, the training was conducted in extreme conditions with water flow rates of up to 10,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) on a river where normal flow rates hover around 1,200 cfs.  Water temperatures around 50 degrees Fahrenheit also made hypothermia a risk.

On Friday, the fifth and final day of the training, course participants were scheduled to perform a search and rescue exercise. As the exercise got underway, they encountered several visitors whose canoes and kayaks had overturned and been swept away in the current.  In cooperation with their classmates, the three Chattahoochee River NRA park rangers rescued all seven visitors before regrouping to successfully complete a staged night exercise utilizing the incident command system and operational leadership.

A total of sixteen participants completed the swiftwater rescue training course, practicing rescue techniques and tactics on both the Chattahoochee River and the Amicalola River in north Georgia.



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