Swiftwater and Flood First Responder (SFR)

As well as being prepared to work around the water and undertake bank based and shallow water wading rescues, one of the main roles of a First Responder is to support the teams of Swiftwater Rescue Technicians at an incident. To enable this, a responder will have the ability to self rescue, skills in shallow water working, basic boat handling and basic rope work.

A First Responder will be expected to help and support in technical rescue, but will not be expected to perform them. This may include providing downstream safety cover or assistance with casualty handling. Flooding operations may include evacuation of people from properties using shallow water working skills. At a scene of major flooding the Technicians may be in short supply and utilised for technical rescues. Therefore it is First Responders who will be used to undertake the majority of evacuations and safety provision.

Contact hours

12 hours (2 days)


  • Must be a confident swimmer
  • Minimum age: 18

Course content includes

  • Rescue 3 philosophy
  • Training standards
  • Best practice guidelines for water rescue
  • Hydrology and water hazards
  • Floodwater dynamics and hazards
  • Flood theory
  • Personal equipment
  • Technical and team equipment
  • Pre-planning
  • Risk assessments
  • Incident size-up
  • Incident management and site control
  • Medical and decontamination considerations
  • Considerations for night/poor visibility operations
  • Mud, ice and unstable surface considerations
  • Introduction to searching rivers and floods
  • Communications
  • Swiftwater swimming techniques
  • Strainer swim
  • Conditional rescues – talk, reach, throw
  • Shallow water techniques
  • Casualty management
  • People and equipment entrapments
  • Tethered boat options (if used by agency)
  • Inflated fire hose (if used by agency)
  • Flat-water sled paddling (if used by agency)

Course standard, learning outcomes and key teaching points

Rescue 3 Europe course standards, learning outcomes and key teaching points

The course standards, learning outcomes and key teaching points are provided as pre- and post-course reference for people involved in the delivery of Rescue 3 courses (eg Rescue 3 training providers, instructors and students). They are not to be used for any other purpose without the express written permission of Rescue 3 Europe.

Defra level:

Module 2 – Water First Responder – To work safely near and in water using land-based and wading techniques.

View all Rescue 3 Europe Defra module courses

Qualification valid for:

3 years

 Taught by:

Student resources

Student resources for Rescue 3 courses can be accessed here.

Instructor resources

Instructor resources for Rescue 3 courses can be accessed here.

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Related Courses

Strainer Drills

Swiftwater and Flood Rescue Technician (SRT)

Water and Flood Awareness (AW)