This course is designed and taught by professional instructors that actually work on USAR teams and recreate using motorized boats in a variety of river conditions from class I – IV. We don’t teach this course on ponds or lakes, we teach this course in very dynamic river environments designed to challenge both instructor and students to make realtime decisions and take the training to the next level. It’s a progressive course over several days, and we build on boat operation fundamentals to allow the student to gain confidence and critical driving skills with ample throttle time.

This 4 day course is designed to introduce novice boat operators and familiarize current boat operators in various techniques associated with technical boat operation and proper rescue techniques in moving water. Obstacle avoidance and basic boat maneuvering skills will be practiced in class I-II moving water, and we will progress to operating in faster water both upstream and downstream as further skills are learned and basic maneuvering skills mastered. 4 days of throttle time allow for ample instruction, and we will incorporate multiple boat rescues as well as a night scenario on night 3.

A variety of techniques will be developed over the length of this course and employed in up to class-III water requiring significant hazard avoidance and an understanding of craft response and team capability.

We have a variety of open enrollment and custom boat operator courses available to meet your agencies needs. Agencies are strongly encouraged to send teams of 2-4 rescue personnel dependent upon the rescue craft. Trailering your boats to our course sites is necessary for open enrollment courses, but we commonly travel to a specific agencies response area to conduct the training using your specific rescue crafts. As such, this course is also customizable to meet the desired training goals of your agency.


  1. Students must be physically capable and have a desire to learn
  2. A previous PRO-I  training course or equivalent
  3. All necessary PPE
  4. Meet all Essential Eligibility Criteria

This course is designed for agencies wishing to deploy motorized rescue craft in search and rescue operations. This is not a swiftwater rescue course, this is a boat operator course. We will not be teaching the basic skills covered in a standard swiftwater course such as: swimming, throw bagging, foot entrapment, or anchors and knots. As such, it is a prerequisite to have this training prior to the course. Please contact us for more info, or to schedule a training in your area.

VERIFICATION OF TRAINING: All students will receive a “Verification of Training” from the internationally recognized program taught by the Swiftwater Safety Institute. We will utilize a Core Competencies sheet along with a FEMA Boat Operator Task Book for validation of skills completed.


swiftwater boat operator Motor Boat swiftwater boat operator Slide

Classroom Based Learning Objectives

  • Types of rescue craft
  • Types of propulsion
  • Designs and boat specialties
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Safety concerns
  • Crew function
  • Rescue sequence
  • Egress classifications
  • Surface water classifications
  • Crew and required boat equipment
  • Hydrology of moving water
  • Underway navigation and signals
  • Craft anatomy

In-Water Training Objectives

  • Pre-launch and trailering
  • Driving skills
  • 90° turns underway
  • Figure 8’s
  • Quick stops
  • Alongside rescues
  • Deployed rope systems
  • Disabled boat recovery
  • Strong swimmer deployment
  • Victim tow
  • Paddle assist
  • Capsize/recovery
  • Basic maintenance
  • Navigational aids
  • Night operations
  • Search and Rescue techniques
  • Post rescue