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NPS Search and Rescue Swiftwater Training: An Account by Kimberlee Roberts

NPS Search and Rescue Swiftwater Training: An Account by Kimberlee Roberts

GBI Research Associate Kimberlee Roberts has been working as an archivist at Zion National Park, where she has supported an effort to archive the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance documentation at the park. Adherence to NEPA regulations impacts much of what happens in the National Park Service and helps the NPS ensure that its values, history, and resources will be properly safeguarded for generations to come. It also creates an opportunity for the public to participate in the discussions about preserving and protecting the nation’s natural and cultural resources. Consequently, the organization of this documentation is crucial.

But sometimes, our research associates are presented with exciting opportunities outside of their strict job description, and this is exactly what happened when Kimberlee was given a chance to participate in an NPS Search and Rescue Swiftwater course. We are pleased to present Kimberlee’s account of the course below, along with some great photos that she took.

In anticipation of high water levels from runoff and precipitation events this coming Spring, Zion National Park selected a number of employees and partners to participate in Swiftwater Rescue training and serve as members of a response team. The 16 members of the Swiftwater Rescue team are locals employed in the area, Park Service employees, and Great Basin Institute associates.

Going into my second year with the Great Basin Institute at Zion National Park, I was proud of my involvement with the Search and Rescue operations team. Over the year, I participated in numerous rescue efforts, met mentors and learned technical ropes skills, and found a community of people who loved adrenaline sports as much as I did.

As the Virgin River flows began increasing in CFS and the snowpack above the canyon dwindled, the community of friends I made over the year met me at the river’s edge and suited up for whitewater packrafting runs. So far this season, I’ve met paddlers on the river over 10 times, boating from the Temple of Sinawava through the Virgin River Gorge, Arizona.

It was through this community that I was selected to become a member of the Swiftwater Rescue team. The training was administered by Kane County Search and Rescue personnel and consisted of one classroom based training day and two field training days in April.

The experience of problem-solving and reacting as a team felt like a momentous win for the community. Having gained new skills for live bait rescues, board-assisted rescues, and rope techniques we all left the training feeling more capable and competent moving into the Summer season.

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