Unit of competency details

SISOWWR302A - Demonstrate white water rescues and recoveries (Release 2)


Usage recommendation:
Is superseded by SISORSC005 - Rescue others in white waterNot equivalent. Title changed. Unit recategorised to Rescue Operations. Unit reframed so that it can cover self rescues in different grades of rivers, 2, 3 & 4. Assessment can be contextualised to particular environments. Significant changes to knowledge evidence. 10/Sep/2019
Supersedes and is equivalent to SROWWR002B - Perform white water rescues and recoveriesE Updated and equivalent to SROWWR002B Perform white water rescues and recoveries 06/Jun/2011

ReleaseRelease date
2 (this release) 28/Nov/2011
(View details for release 1) 07/Jun/2011


SchemeCodeClassification value
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 092101 Sport And Recreation Activities  

Classification history

SchemeCodeClassification valueStart dateEnd date
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 092101 Sport And Recreation Activities  18/Nov/2011 
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Modification History

Not Applicable

Unit Descriptor

This unit describes the performance outcomes, skills and knowledge required to perform rescues and recoveries in routine, predictable situations in rafting, canoeing or kayaking activities on water up to Grade 3 standard.

Application of the Unit

This unit applies to those working as outdoor guides in a range of activities performed on graded water. This may include those required to demonstrate white water rescues and recoveries in routine and predictable situations during rafting, canoeing or kayaking activities on water up to Grade 3 standard.

This unit may also apply to leaders working for outdoor education or adventure providers; volunteer groups; not-for-profit organisations or government agencies.

Licensing/Regulatory Information

No licensing, regulatory or certification requirements apply to this unit at the time of endorsement.



Employability Skills Information

This unit contains employability skills.

Elements and Performance Criteria Pre-Content

Elements and Performance Criteria



Elements describe the essential outcomes of a unit of competency.

Performance criteria describe the performance needed to demonstrate achievement of the element. Where bold italicised text is used, further information is detailed in the required skills and knowledge section and the range statement. Assessment of performance is to be consistent with the Evidence Guide.

1. Determine rescue and recovery technique.

1.1. Assess  the situation  and identify potential hazards  and risks  to self and others.

1.2. Identify a rescue and recovery method  suitable to the situation according to contextual issues , relevant legislation  and organisational policies and procedures .

1.3. Select equipment and resources  required to perform identified rescues and recoveries in white water.

1.4. Communicate rescue and recovery plan to those assisting.

2. Undertake rescues and recoveries.

2.1. Perform a rescue using a reach technique.

2.2. Use throw resources  to reach a swimmer in moving water.

2.3. Demonstrate towing techniques in moving water.

2.4. Use safe contact methods to rescue and transport a swimmer.

2.5. Tether a craft  to perform a rescue or recovery, where appropriate.

2.6. Identify and use a range of methods to release an entrapment victim, according to the situation, type of entrapment  and organisational policies and procedures.

2.7. Communicate directions to other members of the rescue team.

2.8. Hazards are avoided and managed whilst conducting a rescue or recovery according to relevant legislation and organisational policies and procedures.

3. Use mechanical advantage systems.

3.1. Identify situations  requiring the use of mechanical advantage systems .

3.2. Determine the type of system required according to contextual issues and organisational policies and procedures.

3.3. Establish suitable mechanical advantage systems to perform rescues and recoveries in a range of predictable situations.

3.4. Use system equipment in a safe manner according to manufacturer's recommendations and organisational policies and procedures, to ensure that design limits are not exceeded.

3.5. Modify the system to increase efficiency where necessary, and clearly communicate system changes.

4. Conclude rescue and recovery operations.

4.1. Check and store equipment according to organisational policies and procedures and manufacturer's guidelines.

4.2. Evaluate activity and identify improvements for future white water rescues and recoveries.

Required Skills and Knowledge

This section describes the skills and knowledge required for this unit.

Required skills 

  • problem-solving skills to:
  • determine rescue and recovery methods to use according to the routine situation
  • anticipate and mitigate hazards and risks
  • communication skills to:
  • inform progress
  • interact with other members of the rescue team
  • teamwork skills to support others in the rescue operation
  • planning and organising skills to select equipment and resources
  • river reading skills including direction and speed of flow, currents, eddies and other hydrological features to enable safe conduct of rescue and recovery activities
  • throwing skills to throw rope and throwbags to reach a swimmer in white water
  • swimming skills in moving water to locate access, rescue and tow a victim
  • first aid and emergency response skills appropriate to the location to enable initial response to emergencies
  • craft handling skills to control a craft on white water up to grade 3 to locate, access and rescue victim
  • effective knot typing skills to enable the construction of anchors and mechanical advantage systems.

Required knowledge 

  • understanding of the use of a 2 and 4 point tether system and its application
  • identifies low to high risk rescue options
  • rescue team roles and the incident command system
  • legislation and organisational policies and procedures to enable safe conduct of all white water rescue and recovery activities
  • rescue and recovery equipment and resource types, characteristics, advantages and disadvantages, and its care and maintenance to enable appropriate selection and use
  • hydrology and river grading systems to understand how rivers work and conduct safe rescues and recoveries on white water
  • hazards and risks associated with rescues and recoveries on white water up to Grade 3 standard, and how to safely negotiate or avoid these
  • aggressive and defensive swimming techniques to escape hazards
  • rescue and recovery techniques suitable to the routine conditions and experience of the participant
  • principles of mechanical advantage systems and contexts in which they are used
  • communication systems used on rivers to make intentions clear
  • first aid appropriate to location and level of responsibility
  • understanding of the use of a highline tyrolean system (telfer lower) and its application.

Evidence Guide

The evidence guide provides advice on assessment and must be read in conjunction with the performance criteria, required skills and knowledge, range statement and the Assessment Guidelines for the Training Package.

Overview of assessment 

Critical aspects for assessment and evidence required to demonstrate competency in this unit 

Evidence of the following is essential:

  • assesses rescue situation in a timely manner to identify potential hazards and risks, and determines efficient rescue and recovery methods
  • selects and uses rescue equipment and resources, including mechanical advantage systems, in a variety of white water rescue and recovery situations
  • communicates with other members of the rescue team and adapts to problems or issues that may arise during white water rescues and recoveries to ensure safety of self and group
  • evaluates and reflects on own rescue and recovery performance to identify strengths, weaknesses and areas that need improvement
  • carry out multiple rescues utilising the full range of rescue and recovery methods, one of these being in a time critical environment
  • release and rescue an entrapped victim in a time critical environment
  • safely recover a wrapped, pinned or breached craft using a mechanical advantage system ensuring equalisation of load and anchors to minimise damage to craft.

Context of and specific resources for assessment 

Assessment must ensure conduct of rescues and recoveries in routine and predictable white water rapids that reflect local conditions and are of sufficient breadth to demonstrate competency and consistency of performance.

Assessment must also ensure access to:

  • a white water location, with up to Grade 3 standard white water
  • personnel for team based rescues
  • rescue, recovery, safety, first aid and activity-specific equipment and resources.

Method of assessment 

A range of assessment methods should be used to assess practical skills and knowledge. The following examples are appropriate for this unit:

  • observation of selecting rescue and recovery equipment according to the routine situation
  • oral or written questioning to assess knowledge of rescue and recovery techniques and potential white water hazards and risks
  • observation of performing rescues and recoveries of others using mechanical advantage systems and various rescue techniques
  • observation of dealing with contingencies such as changing currents or weather conditions
  • third-party reports from a supervisor detailing performance.

Holistic assessment with other units relevant to the industry sector, workplace and job role is recommended, for example:

  • activity-specific units from activities performed on graded water such as rafting, canoeing and kayaking.

Range Statement

The range statement relates to the unit of competency as a whole. It allows for different work environments and situations that may affect performance. Bold italicised wording, if used in the performance criteria, is detailed below. Essential operating conditions that may be present with training and assessment (depending on the work situation, needs of the candidate, accessibility of the item, and local industry and regional contexts) may also be included.

Assess  may include:

  • scouting
  • identifying the degree of urgency
  • availability of physical and human resources
  • personnel and equipment
  • location.

Situation  may include:

  • entrapment
  • craft flip
  • lost equipment
  • search swimmers
  • craft wrap, pin or broach.

Hazards  may include:

  • temperature extremes
  • stoppers or holes
  • waves
  • waterfalls
  • strainers
  • man made objects
  • rocks
  • sieves
  • other river uses
  • high water

Risks  may include:

  • drowning
  • water immersion or submersion
  • injury
  • entrapment
  • exposure.

Rescue and recovery methods  must include:

  • talk
  • reach
  • throw
  • wade
  • row
  • go
  • tow.

Contextual issues  may include:

  • resources
  • level of consciousness of victim
  • rescue situation
  • type of craft
  • season and weather
  • river height.

Relevant legislation  may include:

  • occupational health and safety
  • permits or permission for access
  • environmental regulations
  • marine regulations.

Organisational policies and procedures  may include:

  • occupational health and safety
  • use, maintenance and storage of equipment
  • manufacturer's design specifications and recommendations for equipment use
  • communication protocols
  • access to medical personnel
  • removal of casualties
  • code of ethics.

Equipment and resources  may include:

  • rescue and recovery equipment
  • mechanical advantage systems
  • personal protective equipment
  • activity-specific equipment.

Throw resources  may include:

  • throw bags
  • rope coils.

Tether a craft  may include:

  • two and or four point boat tether system
  • high line tyrolean with a craft (telfer lower).

Entrapment  may include:

  • limb
  • body
  • recirculation
  • rope entanglements.

Situations  may include:

  • rescue of paddler
  • recovery of craft
  • trapped paddler
  • recovery of other equipment
  • tension line across river.

Mechanical advantage systems  may include:

  • z drags
  • pig-rigs vector pulls
  • 3:1 ratio
  • 4:1 ratio.

Unit Sector(s)

Outdoor Recreation

Competency Field

White Water Rescue