I'm John. I'm with a volunteer fire department in the Eastern panhandle of WV. For the last two years we have had the swiftwater rescue team for our county. Unfortunately, we picked it up after the previous team had disbanded and sold all of their equipment, therefore we had to start from scratch.
Our primary calls come from tubing, rafting and kayaking activities on the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers.
Most of our 12 team members are trained to the NFPA standard for technician level, with a few that are at the ops level and a couple that are at awareness and only want to help from dry land.
We have 2 boats, a R1 14' inflatable and an Alumaski, the first one on the east coast. Both boats are new to us this past year, the R1 being purchase by the department and late summer we got the Alumaski, being provided primarily by private donation. We are still very much in the learning curve of the capabilities and limitations of the Alumaski. We also have a Lifesled for the Alumaski.
The first year we had two older, used Yamaha skis. Being that PWC's are not recognized in the local dispatch systems as "rescue boats", we had very few calls. Also, when it comes to fiberglass and rocks, the rocks win every time.
PWC type craft are not typically used in this region for water rescue and with the fire service, being very tradition-driven, we have an upriver journey. But against the flow is where you have maximum control, right?
I hope to learn a lot from browsing this site. I will also stop back and post lessons learned this coming season.