Swift water rescue training

Flood waters are just as unpredictable as the sea but present a very different set of dangers.

Our flood rescue volunteers undergo extensive and regular swift water rescue training to ensure their safety in this unfamiliar, diverse and high-risk environment.

First, it's a pre-requisite that all RNLI Flood Rescue Team members are competent RNLI lifeboat crew or lifeguards.

Through their training they become Flood Water Rescue Technicians and Flood Water Rescue Boat Operators.

The swift water rescue training simulates the conditions they could face in flood waters and rivers and involves:

  • negotiating swift and rising flood water

  • operating a lifeboat in fast-flowing water

  • manoeuvring the lifeboat in narrow spaces similar to the streets of a town

  • dealing with submerged hazards

  • performing rescues from weirs safely, using two boats

  • defensive rescue swimming

  • wading in shallow, moving water

  • throwbag rescues

  • navigation

  • communications

  • technical rope work

  • reconnaissance techniques

  • mapping and survival skills.

Regular training exercises allow the team to practice these specialist skills so that they are always ready for a flooding emergency.

See the team in action in our flood rescue training video gallery.

The pandemic has significantly impacted the RNLI’s ability to safely deliver the substantial amount of training required for our team of flood rescue volunteers. For this reason, the RNLI has declared itself unavailable on DEFRA’s national flood rescue asset register.

We are using this time to review our flood rescue service and how we best use our skills and experience in this area.