River Rescue: A Manual for Whitewater Safety by Les Bechdel & Slim Ray

reviewed by Giles Thomas, Swan Canoe Club

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"What's that metal thing on your life jacket for?"

"I don't know, but it must be important because everyone else has one."

This conversation between two paddlers, about a carabiner, was overheard by one of the authors of "River Rescue." The paddler's ignorance is probably not as isolated as we would like to believe: how many paddlers would know instinctively how to achieve an efficient and successful rescue? Whilst not replacing a river rescue course, this book is a comprehensive guide to avoiding accidents and dealing with them when they do occur.

The book begins with an informative chapter on river sense, recognising white water hazards and learning how to avoid them. There's a section on specialised safety equipment as well as boats and your personal safety outfit.

The bulk of the book is taken up with outlining the procedures for various types of rescue technique. The descriptions are detailed and precise, so that, when combined with the diagrams, replicating the rescue methods in real life should be relatively straightforward.

Interspersed throughout the book are enlightening stories of rescues that worked and rescues that didn't!

This is a very illuminating and detailed book on what is a crucially important paddling subject. It certainly got me motivated to practise some rescue techniques around the house, so now I'm an expert when it comes to setting up a Z-drag to extricate the sofa from a life threatening broach up against the fridge!

This classic has been in print since 1984. The third edition was published in 1997, with a new chapter on big water rescues done in the current. As well, the text has been updated with the latest, there is more material and more illustrations and photos. This is a must for all white water paddlers. 336 pages


1 River Sense

2 Equipment

3 Self-Rescue

4 Rescue on the Run

5 Basic Rope Rescue

6 Wading, Swimming and Contact Rescues

7 Tethered Boat Rescues and Telfer Lowers

8 Entrapmens and Extrications

9 Boat Recovery

10 Vertical Rescue

11 Organisation for Rescue

12 Patient Care and Evacuation Techniques

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