Sierra Rescue FAQs – Information about our Courses

Why Sierra Rescue?

Train hard, be safe, have fun! At Sierra Rescue, we guarantee that you will leave your course feeling energized and empowered with new rescue tools in your pocket and ready to play safer on the river, rock or wilderness. We strive to provide meaningful, scenario based training to our students that gives them rescue tools that will work in real rescues. We contract with the best Instructors in the industry to bring you the highest quality trainings. All of our courses are hands-on and we tailor our trainings to meet the needs of many different agencies, individuals and teams of rescue professionals. We are passionate about rescue and are proud to share these skills with all of our students!

What is the difference between the SRT, WRT and RRC Swiftwater Rescue courses?

There is very little difference in the CONTENT of the Swiftwater Rescue Technician Unit 1 (SRT-1), the Whitewater Rescue Technician (WRT) and the River Rescue Certification (RRC). Each course comes with a different emphasis and is tailored to different student interests and abilities. We teach each curriculum as a stand-alone, or sometimes we teach all three classes together! This provides a great opportunity for our students to mingle with other professionals who may have a different application for Swiftwater Rescue, but are interested in learning the same skills to preform a whitewater rescue.

Who should register for the the SRT-1 class?

Firefighters, FEMA, Military, Agency Rescuers requiring NFPA: The Swiftwater Rescue Technician Unit 1 (SRT-1) is a certification that meets the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) standards for training and is a MUST for anyone working with a Fire Department, FEMA Agency or Military organization. It specifically meets NFPA 1670 and NFPA 1006 requirements and is the first step towards becoming a “Technician Level” operator.

What is the difference between the California State Fire Marshall & Swiftwater Rescue Technician Courses?

The actual content in these courses is the same. Both courses meet the requirements of NFPA 1670 Standard for Operations Level Technical Rescue Incidents in the area of water. The main difference is in the quality of instruction. Rescue 3 International has higher requirements for their instructors, and all our Instructors are certified WORLD wide, not just in the State of California. You can take a Rescue 3 International certification anywhere in the US or world, where the State Fire Marshall Certs are only recognized in individual States. With that being said, the CSFM courses are starting to be mandated in the State of California. To ensure you’re getting the right certification your needs, in ALL of our CSFM courses students will also receive a Rescue 3 International Certification.

Who should register for the RRC class?

Recreational river users such as rafters, cat boaters, kayakers, pack rafters, canoeists, riverboarders and SUP paddlers should choose the River Rescue Certification (RRC). This special curriculum that has been developed by Sierra Rescue to train private boaters, kayakers and non-profit organizations in the techniques and thought processes of Swiftwater Rescue. The RRC comes with a certification which is good for 3 years. This is not the right course for you if you have no whitewater experience. The course is fast paced and does not cover the basics of hydrology or introduction to swimming or whitewater. If you are a recreational river user with some river experience, a kayaker that wants to dial in your rescue skills, or a private boater who is interested in being safer on the river, this is the right course for you!

Who should register for the RRC-Pro class?

Professional boaters, river guides and kayakers that spend a good portion of their lives on the river in a professional capacity. The RRC-Pro was written for Professional boaters, by Professional boaters and comes with a certification which is good for 3 years.  This energetic, and physical curriculum will be challenging and include a skills testing component to emphasize knowing your own limits,  skill level,  knowledge of basic rope skills and the ability to execute a rescue as part of a team. This course is not for those with limited river experience or limited river days each year. If you spend a good portion of your life on the river, especially in a professional setting, this is the course for you!

If I am a river guide or kayaker currently certified in the RRC, how do I upgrade to the PRO?

If you’re a river guide or kayaker and received your RRC/WRT certification, you can upgrade to the RRC/WRT-Pro when you recert! In order to do this, you should have a solid knowledge of ALL the skills you learned in the RRC/WRT. If you are rusty, either get ON IT! or recertify in the RRC/WRT. The RRC/WRT PRO is a high intensity, fast paced course designed for river guides and professional kayakers that have solid Class 3-4 boating skills, and an understanding of all the river rescue basics. It is a certification recognized WORLD WIDE, and there is an actual skills testing segment at the end of the course. If you’d like to upgrade to the Professional certification prior to your River Rescue Certification expiring, please let us know. You will receive a discount for recertifying and upgrading prior to your expiration. Please email us –

Looking for more differences between the RRC and RRC-Pro? Click Here!

Who should register for the WRT class?

Fisheries, Agencies, Search and Rescue: The WRT curriculum is designed for fisheries folks and other rescue professionals that are required to have an NFPA compliant certification for Swiftwater Rescue. The curriculum is more flexible and the emphasis is on quick, fast, efficient and low tech solutions to whitewater rescue problems. If you are not interested in training towards a “Technician Level” certification but still want training that fits into the NFPA guidelines, the Whitewater Rescue Technician is for you.

How do I register for a Sierra Rescue course?

Registering for our classes is EASY! Just find the class you would like to register for on the website and click on the “Register” button next to the course dates. You can fill out all the information online and even process your credit card payment through our secure form. If you would prefer to pay by check, you may select that option as well. Please note that to reserve your space in a course, you must have paid for it before the first day of the course.

Is there a discount for re-certifying?

Yes! As long as your current certification isn’t expired, you will receive a discount on most courses. Swiftwater certifications are valid for 3 years from the completion date of your class. The only exception is any Wilderness First Aid and CPR courses. You must email or fax a copy of your current certification to at the time of registration to use the below codes or your booking will not be approved. For SRT and WRT courses, you will receive a 50% discount. Please enter promo code “SRT50” when registering. For RRC courses, you will receive an $80 discount. Please enter promo code “RRC80” when registering. For RRC-Pro courses you will receive $50 off, enter promo code”RRCP50″. For all Technical Rope Rescue courses, you will receive a 50% discount. Please enter promo code “TRR50” when registering.

Where does Sierra Rescue teach?

Sierra Rescue is based in Truckee, CA, but we teach our courses all over the US, and the world. Although most of our trainings occur in California, Arizona, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, we have also taught in more than 20 other states. We have also lead courses in Malaysia, Costa Rica, Russia, India and many other countries. We are fortunate to have so many great opportunities to follow our students to their far off places. If you have a great location for a course and would like to have us come to you, contact us and we can schedule a training in your area!

Where should I stay during my course?

All of the training sites used by Sierra Rescue have a nearby hotel, motel, B&B or camping accommodation available, usually within 30 minutes driving. Please CLICK HERE for the specific location you are interested in to learn more about the available accommodation in that location.

What do I need to bring for a swiftwater class?

Having the right equipment for your course is very important! Students who do not come properly prepared for the conditions will be limited in their learning opportunities and may not be able to participate in all aspects of the course. Please come prepared! Here is a general list of the most basic requirements for the SRT-1, WRT-1 or RRC.

  • Wetsuit or Drysuit – Drysuits are always recommended as weather and water temperatures are variable.
  • Thermal insulation – Non-cotton thermal layers such as wool or polypropylene will help keep you warm when wet.
  • Personal Flotation Device (PFD) – Type III or V with whistle and knife (optional). Feel free to bring a rescue PFD if you have one as we will use this in the course!
  • Helmet – Lightweight swiftwater or climbing helmet.
  • Hard soled wetsuit boots or athletic/ outdoor shoes with wool socks work great!
  • Wetsuit gloves (optional)
  • Personal fins (optional)
  • Extra warm clothing and a dry change for the end of the day.

Is there a minimum age?

Yes, all participants must be 16 years old or above. All minors must bring with them the Participation Agreement signed by their parent or legal guardian. You will not be allowed to participate in the course without the signed Participation Agreement.

Is food provided by Sierra Rescue?

Sierra Rescue does not provide lunch for any of our courses. Please come prepared with a minimum:

  • High energy, healthy sack lunch
  • Lots of drinking water, at least 2L per day (fresh water is available at most sites)!
  • Snacks for between evolutions/ breaks


What is your cancellation policy?

All cancellations or folks who need to reschedule will be charged a $35 administrative fee for the costs on our end. Other than that fee, a full refund is available if canceling more than 60 days before the course. Cancellations made more than 30 days before the  course will receive a 75% credit towards a future course. Cancellations made more than 15 days BEFORE  the course will receive a 50% credit toward a future course. No credits will be issued for cancellations made fewer than 14 days of the first day of the course. Credits are good for 1 calendar year, no exceptions.  Any cancellations must be received via written notice and emailed to Cancellations made outside of the 60 day window will be given a full refund or full credit transferable to a future training with Sierra Rescue.  Please understand, we try to be as accommodating as we can; but we actively turn people away from our courses to maintain a low Instructor to student ratio.  If you become sick or injured, or have a family emergency within the 15 day window, we will actively try to help someone fill your place in the course, and issue you a credit towards a future course.  We are passionate about training, and are compassionate people. 

Can I change course dates?

Yes. If you are outside the 60 day cancellation window for a course, we are happy to switch you to different dates of the same course for the $35 rescheduling fee. A 15% rescheduling fee will apply if less than 60 days and more than 30 days before the start of the class. If you are inside the 30 day cancellation period for a course, there is a 50% rescheduling fee. NO REFUNDS are given within 60 days of the start of the class.

If at all unsatisfied with a course, contact us within 30 days, and we will reschedule you, or refund your money.

I lost my card! Can I get a duplicate?

Yes, duplicate cards are available for a $25 charge. If you lost your card, give us a call with your payment information and we’ll get you a duplicate made.