Turning a Family Outing into a Training Opportunity

The other day I took a drive with the family to get out of the house and get some fresh air.  We traveled out to a site along the Schuylkill River in Berks County.  While enjoying the Spring weather, I took the opportunity to observe the river.  As rescue professionals, we should take every chance we get to refresh our knowledge and skills.  Watch the video below and see what different features you can identify in the moving water.

Upstream V

Upstream V’s are visual indicators that an obstruction is hiding just beneath the surface of the water.  If you find yourself in the water and are using the defensive swimming position, you will want to change your ferry angle to avoid hitting these obstructions.  There are numerous Upstream V’s at the top of this video.

Downstream V

In contrast to Upstream V’s, the Downstream V is a relatively clear path of travel.  Typically situated between two obstructions or shallower water, the Downstream V is the path you typically want to ferry towards when navigating swift water in the defensive swimming position.  There is a large Downstream V in the center of this video.


An eddy forms behind an object in the water.  As the water moves around the object, the water must back fill the space behind the object.  That back filling results in a relatively save space that a rescuer can swim towards.  Once in the eddy, the rescuer can rest and take a moment to figure out his/her next move in the water.  The rock at the bottom of this video is an example of natural eddy.  It could also be man-made objects in the urban environment.


Bill Elder
Owner / Lead Instructor
Elder Technical Rescue Services, LLC

Mention this blog post when contacting us to set up a water rescue class for your agency and receive a 10% discount on the cost of the class!

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