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Strainer Scenario

Strainer Scenario

Strainers are another hazard that we as swiftwater responders have to deal with. Free-flowing and dam-controlled rivers alike share this obstacle, and in flood areas, strainers are predominant. Like entrapments, strainers pose significant risk to us and our crew. When developing a rescue plan for a strainer, here are a  few guidelines to consider:



  • Avoid approach from upstream of the strainer
  • Get access quickly and stabilize the victim as soon as you can
  • You can’t assume that the under side of the strainer is clear
  • Move efficiently as parameters can change rapidly
  • Ropes can be used when hands-on access is limited, but be aware that you can easily make the situation worse

The photo sequence above shows a rescue from a strainer during our Yosemite SRT-A last spring.   Two responders gained hands-on access downstream of the obstacle, and were able to assist the victim up and over the strainer. Once downstream and stable, transport to shore was the next task. It didn’t go to plan, and the victim floated out the rapid, and was contacted by live bait downstream and pulled to shore.

ZB 12.12.12