Billy Harris-"WRSI Safest guy on the River " February finalist!

Jennifer Arnold from Milton Ontario is our Februarey finalist for the WRSI "U Saved my Ass Contest". Here is her story.

"I nominate Billy Harris for a rescue at Fowlersville Falls during the 2007 Moose Festival. Four rafters went into the hydraulic in the middle of the river, with one being recirced endlessly. Billy paddled in, then threw an accurate throw bag, saving the swimmer. He was pulled upside down during the rescue but still managed to swim the guy the rest of the way out. Skilled, modest and classy..."

Billy Harris is my nomination for the WRSI Safest guy on the River contest!

We also had this worthy entry from Ed Sawtell, from Bozeman Montana.

Here is his Story:

Big T, MT. Beautiful sunny day in July. Personal 1st Descent (Pinch,Gambler,L.Falls) Bottom of shakedown, I got worked, swam and pinned on bottom of the rapid. Jason Schutz scrambles out of his boat plunges paddle in water and pulls my ass out. (he weighs 160, I 200 + pinned).

I nomiate Jason Schutz as the WRSI safest guy on the River.

Keep sending in your entries and you could be our next winner.

Kim Ward-Robberts


Safety Equipment


I am currently spending the southern summer living it up on New Zealands amazing West Coast, and enjoying some super fine steep creeking action.
The usual way to access rivers down here is via Helicopter, due to the rugged terain, impenatrable bush, lack of roads and other and other useful infrastructure.

The whole wilderness aspect of this paddling has brought up some thoughts on what kind of emergency and safety equipment we carry with us when on these remote and difficult runs.

For example: Flying 15km up a river with numerous class 5 and 6 rapids, landing on a gravel bar in the middle of no where (remember I am talking NZ here) and then pushing off into 8 hours of boating through a wilderness with no roads or trails, and only the river, or a helicopter (if it can get to you $$$$$$) as the way out.

Considering this what would be wise to carry with you?
Here is what I would take:
-Break down paddle - 4 piece.
-1st aid kit.
-Spare Thermals.
-Space blanket/small shelter.
-Food - Lunch plus extra.
-Pin kit - Enough gear to extract a boat (basic Z-drag).
-Throw bag - Long and strong enough to use in a mechanical advantage system or to rappel off.
-If available some form of communication, ie: Satellite Phone, EPIRB, Mountain Radio.
-And leave a plan/timeframe for your trip with someone back in "civilisation"

This equipment doesn't all need to be carried by everyone, some items can be carried as group gear and split up between boats, keeping in mind that putting all the safety gear in one boat is not a good idea, should you loose that boat:

-1 spare paddle between 2 or 3 people is usually sufficient as with the first aid kit.
-Every paddler should have a spare thermal or two.
-A couple of space blankets or a small tarp per group can come in handy for an unexpected multiday.
-Obviously everyone will be carrying their own lunch and some extra food.
-A pin kit is also something that every paddler should have including at least 4 carabiners, two prussick loops, a good length of tubular webbing and some pulleys if you like. The knowledge on how to use this equipment is also important, other wise its just bling.
-Throw bags should be minimum of one each.
-Communications are usually carried as a group item.

Not to say that this is a must for all rivers, some trips my require more gear like ropes if you have some big rappels, and some you may need less.
On a roadside run you may not take a spare paddle as you can get out and walk to the car, but if you are running some huge multiday expedition in the bottomless canyon then you may elect to have one each.

It is easy enough to take off down a river without the appropriate gear when you are amping to go, but with a quick check before you depart any group should be able to scrape togeather enough stuff to make your trip a little bit safer.

Happy boating,

Ben Earle