Gene 17 Whitewater Safety & Rescue Course

Written by Pikey

I headed down to Dartmoor with a Group of friends from the Thames Valley. We met up with Matt Tidy and Deb Pinniger who was running our Course, we had the joy of having Alex Nicks who had great input with some of his own rescue experiences while on the river.


The weekend covered equipment, throwline work, Rescue Techniques, and Group Dynamics. I found the weekend full of info and enjoyed the scenario’s that was put together for us to practice our new skills on.

Saturday we covered basics of what our equipment should contain, from helmets, BA’s and shoes, to Slings, crabs, pulleys and even group shelters. We then went on to throwline work, spending a good hour throwing different Bags around before having a little course laid out which was to be completed in race form, (after leading most the course Ozzy Mally took the lead and beat me in my heat!)


Its amazing how little a group rescue kit actually takes up and how basic the Z drag and Vector pull were, I thought of them being something major complicated. To my surprise they weren’t.
The afternoon included a walk into the Upper Dart to do some more rope work and to test out the quick release harness and work on a few basic rescue techniques to help swimmers. Some of us were lucky to paddle out while others walked back up the big hill!


The evening was spent eating some good food, (my ribs were rubbish) and partying at a 18th birthday party, (I was in heaven dancing my behind off!) before heading all the way back to Taunton at early hours in the morning.

The following day we covered Z drags and Vector pulls and vertical pins. We then headed for lunch before starting an afternoon of scenarios. We ended up doing 5 different ones on the way down towards the gorge. Most of them showing that rescues are easily solved using simple techniques. We finished off with saving Matt from a “gorge” along with his boat and paddle!


It was a good course with much covered, with good information given and techniques taught, I feel the only thing that we could of asked for would be more time spent on scenarios. Or even pretending that some of the pinned boats were trickier to get out, so we could have used our new learnt techniques to solve the problem.

I am happy with the course and would recommend people on doing it, it gives you some form of peace of mind, knowing you know some simply techniques, and having some basic rescue kit.


A big thank you to Matt, Deb and Alex for the course, Paula for her organization and driving skills, Tom for the use of his house and plenty of mats to sleep on, BJ and Mally for being their normal wicked selves, along with Ali, Tom, Adam and Tom for joining us on a wicked weekend in not so sunny Dartmoor!

P.s Also big thanks to Kokatat for getting me my new Bouyancy Aid the Ronin Pro, it rocks!