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.

Course length:

2 days


Course content includes:

  • Rescuer safety
  • Water and flood dynamics and hazards
  • Personal and team equipment
  • On-scene safety briefing and site control
  • Pre-planning and incident management
  • Medical and personal welfare considerations
  • Considerations for night operations
  • Mud, ice and unstable surface considerations
  • Communications
  • Basic swiftwater swimming and self rescue
  • Bank based rescue options
  • Shallow water techniques
  • Two and four point boat and rope system
  • Inflated fire hose
  • Continuous loop shallow water rope system


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



  • Must be a confident swimmer
  • Minimum age: 18


Qualification valid for:

3 years


 Taught by:

Student manual PDF download:

SFR manual - English (en) 

SFR manual - French (fr) 

SFR manual - German (de)

SFR manual - Italian (it)

SFR manual - Dutch (nl)



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