Planning a whitewater rafting adventure? Be sure to ask the outfitter “do you invest in swiftwater rescue training for your guides?”

“In over 18 years of Adventure Sun Valley, we have enjoyed an outstanding SAFETY RECORD, and that didn’t come about by accident!”

Adventure Sun Valley’s safety record on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River is the result of our incredible commitment and costly investment in swiftwater rescue training for each of our guides.

Our swiftwater rescue training stands out from any other company you might raft with on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. As the outfitter, Brad Frei is personally committed to providing this high performance training for his guides. That’s just one of the reasons Adventure Sun Valley has enjoyed over 18 years without a serious event.

It’s important to me that all guests of Adventure Sun Valley have reasonable expectations that we’re going to be looking out for your safety throughout your entire river adventure.” Brad stated emphatically!

What is swiftwater rescue training, and what are the top reasons Adventure Sun Valley river guides get this training?

  • Swiftwater rescue training is a realistic, in-the-water course which uses simulated scenarios to prepare students for potential incidents on the river.
  • The goal of swiftwater training is to mitigate risks of whitewater rafting.   The course is complex, focused, and physically demanding.
  • The training is a pre-requisite for ANY new guide who wants to join our ASV team.

We commit to hiring the best trainer and the world authority on swiftwater rescue, Nate Ostis. Nate wrote the book on swiftwater rescue: Visit Wilderness Rescue International Online

Brad acknowledges, “As good as I am in river safety, Nate is better.” His expertise with whitewater technique and gear qualifies the guides to be mindful of preventative situations and to work as a team.


Swiftwater rescue training is designed to prepare guides not only to excel in individual skills, but because many rescue situations require more than one rescuer, guides are trained to function as a team.  The course includes simulations of situations or circumstances that may occur on the river such as foot entrapment, a raft wrapped on a rock or a strainer.   By training through these varieties of scenarios, our guides are  equipped with the skills to handle all types of possible situations, are much more aware of what COULD happen and are prepared to avoid certain situations entirely.


There is a sense of camaraderie among boaters on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, and that camaraderie is a valued principle of ASV.   We go out of our way to apply our skills in helping other groups.


Swiftwater Rescue training entails not only technical skill but also professional gear needed for rescue.    Each of our guides is equipped with a specialized rescue PFD (life jacket) and carries additional rescue gear.   We schedule and perform the training session during high water, the most challenging time on the river.   We train during the most dangerous conditions we’ll be in all year, swimming rapids and simulating rescues in rapids, so that when our season begins, we’re primed and ready.


All of our guides have fundamental medical training.  In addition, we usually have at least one guide who is also trained as a Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness EMT trained to handle not just river related problems, but should someone on the trip unexpectedly have a health problem such as a heart attack or other illness, the Wilderness First Responder/ EMT is equipped to give lifesaving support and care until other medical resources arrive.


If you’re considering a river trip, ask the outfitter “Do you invest in swiftwater rescue training for your guides?”   If they do not, perhaps you should investigate another river company.  The safety of your family or friends is not only important, but gives you that extra confidence knowing you’re in good hands on a long stretch of wilderness river like the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

PS:  Special thanks to Joyce and Luke for their expert contributions to  this blog article to make it all right!