Sauk River Safety Protocol

The following is excerpt from a proprietary system of safety mechanisms and standards (protocols) that have been independently audited by a third party and approved by the federal government. These systems are guidelines for our trips and are available to the public for their preparation purposes. Triad River Tours utilizes great effort to improve p


Crisis Management Plan | Operating Procedures | Safety Protocols Sauk River (Sauk-1) TRT

Emergency Contact Numbers Triad River Tours: (360) 510-1243

Complimentary Documents:
Triad River Tours Company Employee Handbook Guide Training Manual
Swiftwater Safety Institute Manual Remote Medical International: WFA Text

Statement of Intent:

  1. Becausesafetyistheparamountconcernonallrivertrips,TriadRiverTours takes our responsibilities with great sincerity and dedication. There is no reason for us to ever run a river trip where any compromise towards safety is made in order to save money, time, or to add convenience to the trip in any way. Our trips are designed after careful planning, and a detail oriented itinerary. Each of our trips is holistic in it’s approach, and it is prepackaged throughout it’s itinerary. No client/guest of Triad River Tours will ever be in a position where they are taking a risk above what is absolutely necessary to run the trip, that is just not the reason for our trips.

  2. Webelieve,atTriad,thatmanypeopleavoid“WhitewaterRafting”becausethey see it as frightening, difficult, or otherwise outside of their comfort zone. The motivation behind this company is to reach a customer segment that typically


avoids the hard core adventurers type of travel, and as a result our trips are designed to make each guest as comfortable as possible. The first way we eliminate risk from the trip, is that we simply will not run a trip that we cannot do safely. Our company will never need to run a trip on the river which cannot be done in a safe manner. If the river is unsafe, we will give the money back to our guests and spend the time hiking, taking pictures, or doing other things. This will preserve our reputation on the river, as well as with our clientele. No guide will be taking customers until a level of adeptness is seen from that person that goes entirely beyond what it simply takes to navigate the river responsibly.

C. Itisourgoaltofacilitatetherelationshipthatourguestshavewithmothernature, with themselves, as well as the relationships they form with our guides and staff. All of these great things happen upon a foundation of river safety, preparation, and excellence in river running techniques. We spare no effort or expense to accomplish our goals in regards to running successful river trips.

Standard Operating Procedures | Prevention of Negligent Activities

  1. Allequipment,includingrafts,willbeinspectedpriortothetrip,andallequipment shall be removed from use until replaced or repaired.

  2. Allguidesshallperformtheirdutiesinaccordancewithourcompanyhandbook, which includes our drug free workplace policies.

  3. Allguidesshallbeequippedwithpersonalequipmentthatisaboveindustry standard. All lead guides shall be equipped with a rescue vest including a rescue harness for appropriate strong swimmer rescues, if applicable.

  4. Ourguidesrunseparatelyfromourdrivers,andalltripleadersanddriverscarry a cell phone. This means that at any time a guide can call a driver and have them meet them roadside to deal with any kind of emergency. This also allows emergency services to never be more than a phone call away. No guide is to run a river trip without a working cell phone inside a dry box or dry bag. It is company procedure to ensure that two boats are ran by two QUALIFIED guides and proper spacing and safety procedures followed whenever there are more than 4 people on the river, whenever whitewater is encountered, or whenever there are two boats under any circumstances. This ensures that we “containment” is always provided by our guides.

  5. Notripswillberunabove7,000cfs,accordingtotheUSGSHydrographat Darrington.

  6. Local emergency response teams have explained an 15-20 minute response time to anywhere on the river. All guides will be trained in getting injured guests or other river victims safely to shore, and if possible to the left bank. 3 evacuation routes have been lined out and practiced.

  7. All trips will have at least one medical first responder (WFA, or WFR), with medical training that goes above and beyond the state required minimums. All guides will have valid and current first aid and CPR training, whose proof will be provided to the USFS and any other governing body by request.

  8. Ifanyrivertriptakesplaceafterdramaticchangesinwaterflow,particularly times when the river has risen to high levels and then dropped down to a level more than 50% of the peak, then a trial guide “scouting” run shall be done, which

may include use of a go pro camera, that can be downloaded to our company database and viewed by all guides before the trip. This scouting run can be done by our rescue support kayaker, or by an R1 raft, safety cat, or a center mount equipped raft. Lead guides will be given authority to have a scouting run take place before taking commercial guests at any time and under whatever circumstances they deem necessary, including but not limited to: changes in water level, information from outside sources of a hazard such as a tree or wrapped boat in a run, boulders shifting in a rapid, wire or other man-made hazard protruding or otherwise in a dangerous position in the river.

III. Guest Participation

  1. Allguestswillberequiredtofilloutaliabilityrelease(waiver)priortothedayof the trip. Any guest who has yet completed the liability waiver may sign the waiver the day of the trip via a paper copy. No guest will be allowed on the river without understanding the risks undertaken, which will be exhibited in their personal signature on the liability waiver.

  2. AllguestswillbeencouragedtoreadandstudytheSafetyCodeofAmerican Whitewater, and a link to this document shall be provided on our website.

  3. Allguestswillbeinformedofappropriateriverdangersincludingcoldwater immersion. The safety talk shall follow (roughly) that of the one provided by Northwest River Supply, and the Safety Code of American Whitewater, with all major bullet points of each covered during the safety talk.

  4. NoguestwillbeallowedontheSaukRiverwhoisundertheageof18yearsand has not been on a prior commercial rafting trip which is rated at least a Class 3 by American Whitewater (example: Wenatchee, Sauk, Teiton).

  5. Noguestsundertheageof14areallowedonanySaukWhitewaterraftingtrip.

  6. All guests under the age of 18 are required to have a parent or guardian with

    them, who must also sign (in addition to the minor) the liability waiver.

  7. No guest will be allowed on the river who has consumed alcohol or is in any way under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Any guide who suspects a guest is

    under the influence of alcohol has the authority to remove that guest from the trip at any time. If that guest is on the river they will be escorted to the nearest of 4 evacuation locations.

  8. NoguestwillbeallowedontheSaukwhohasaseriouspre-existingmedical condition which could inhibit their ability to self rescue. Guests who have had recent surgeries, stitches, heart conditions, or healing broken bones will not be allowed. It is to be expected that all guests of Triad River Tours may end up swimming Jaws from top to bottom. Our motto is “do not run anything you cannot swim”. All guides will use this standard when analyzing our clientele for preparedness for the Sauk.

  9. All guests are given a preparatory safety video before they are allowed on the trip. Guests who do not watch the video will be required to participate in rescue drills prior to the trip in lieu of the content therein. The preparatory safety video will cover basics of swift water rescue, paddling techniques, and an introduction to our equipment and guiding principles.

  1. Any guests who is seen shivering will be questioned as to the severity of their being cold. If any guest is found to be questionable to be able to take a long swim will be evacuated to the road and picked up by the shuttle driver and met at the end of the run.

  2. Allguestswillberequiredtowearawetsuit,whichtheythemselvescanprovide, or can be provided by TRT. Our wetsuits are standard 3mm Farmer Bill. If water temperatures are above 50 degrees and air temperatures are above 70 degrees, guests may opt to not wear a wetsuit if they decline one at time of booking.

  3. All guests will be equipped with a whitewater specific helmet. WRSI helmets are our standard for the Sauk, while other styles are available to suit different sized heads and preferences. No guest will be allowed to remove their helmet at any time during the trip.

  4. All guests will be equipped with a type 5 whitewater specific life jacket providing adequate floatation.

  5. NopromotionalmaterialsfortheSaukRivershallappeartomakethetriplook “safe” or “moderate”. This trip is to be consistently explained as an intermediate to advanced level commercial whitewater run.

  6. All guests must be in good physical condition and capable of swimming Jaws and Demon Seed, which is approximately 200 yards of continuous whitewater. This will be explained to guests whenever possible.

  7. Splash jackets will be provided to guests upon requests but are not mandatory. TRT, along with other river rescue professionals, calls into question the usefulness of splash jackets due to their tendency to fill up with water and inhibit the rescue potential of a whitewater swimmer. Splash jackets are seen as a luxury with very little value in actual rescue scenarios; but they are available upon request by our guests.

  8. Guests will be trained on the appropriate whitewater swimming techniques, as well as hand signals and gestures, whistle blasts, and procedures in case of an overturned raft or other potential situation during their on river safety talk which will happen immediately preceding their river trip on the Skykomish. Many of these talking points will be gone over repeatedly in the video and then in person.

IV. River Running Protocols, itinerary and Guiding Procedures

  1. Onlyspecificallydesignedwhitewaterraftswillbeusedtotransportguestsdown the Sauk. No inflatable kayaks will be used.

  2. Alltripswilloperateinaccordancewithindustrystandards,whichTriadRiver Tours studies as a member of the America Outdoors Association, American Whitewater, and whose river manager has consulted with the Swiftwater Safety Institute, and the trainers of Remote Medical International. Triad River Torus will also operate in accordance with all state regulations including but not limited to that in RCW 79A.60.430 of the Washington State Legislation.

  3. Alltripswillhaveatestedcellularphonecapableofcalling911fromanywhere on the river. If cell service is not available at all points, guides will be instructed to make the call from whichever locations do provide cell signal. On this river, our Verizon evacuation phones have been able to place calls at every point along the

run. AT&T phones which guides may keep with them provide service in all but a

few short sections.

  1. Amaximumof8guestsperraftwillbeincorporated.

  2. Leadguideswillhaveaminimumof6tripsdowntheSaukRiver

  3. Lead guides will have a minimum of 2 years of commercial rafting experience

  4. All guides will have a minimum of 1 year of commercial rafting experience before

    guiding the Sauk above 3,500cfs, and all guides must be certified and be

    following another guide if it is within their first year of guiding.

  5. Safetyandsupportkayakerswillbetrainedinrescueprocedures,andwillcarry

    with them a reliable throw bag and first aid kit.

  6. Each trip will have one “trauma kit”, which is a first aid kit with ample supplies for

    medical emergencies, including CPR mask, splints, extra gauze, triangle

    bandages, benadryl, and other standard supplies for extended trips.

  7. Each raft will have at least 1 spare paddle

  8. Eachraftwillhaveatleast1sparelifejacket

  9. Each raft will have at least 1 rescue throw bag/rope (standard; 2 bags per boat)

  10. Trips will begin at White Chuck Boat Launch and will end at Backman River


  11. 4Evacuationpointsaresetalongtheriverandarenumberedassuchbelow;

    they are referred to by guides as (“evac one”, “evac two”, and so on). Houses and existing businesses may also be used for emergency evacuation locations for easy access for EMS. The 4 Evacuation locations are:

    1. Below Aligator Hole on river left, above “Gums”.

    2. Murphy Creek trail access just below Whirlpool (whirlpool is “check with me”)

    3. Popeye (Old Sauk River Trail)

    4. Clear Creek (highway 530 bridge)

  12. All guides will be trained on how to safely transport a drowning or near drowning victim to the road side of the river while continually administering CPR. Guides will be taught the “ABCs” for unconscious victims (Airway, Breathing, CPR). Safety protocols and procedures for medical emergencies are referenced in the WFA manual provided by Remote Medical International. The standards for all of our first aid and medical emergencies are the ones listed by RMI and taught at their courses.

  13. Jaws may be scouted from the right above the rapid at all flows. Mandatory scouting agove 4500cfs.

  14. Standard Runs for Jaws are as follows:

    1. below 4500 cfs: center to right or left of demon seed rock at the bottom,

      reposition for next rapid.

    2. above 4500cfs: center to right (standard run) if safety is provided. If not it may

      be adviseable to run the left sneak.

  15. PinsandWraps

1. All trips will contain at least one pin kit with appropriate webbing for anchors, as well as carabiners, prusik (or other ascending device such as a gibs ascender, petzyl tibloc, et al), swift water usable pulleys, and rope of sufficient strength. TRT incorporates long “static lines” as well as NRS Rescue Pro throw bags, which house 75 feet of Dyneema chord, which rates at over


5,000 lbs. of tensil strength. No mechanical advantage rope systems will be

utilized if appropriate equipment is not available.

  1. Order of operations for pinned or wrapped boats is to 1) boy scout pull 2) 3-1

    Z-drag 3) 3-1 Z-drag with the aid of a vector pull. 4) 5-1 Z-Drag. 5) 5-1 Z-Drag with the aid of a vector pull. 6) twin 3-1 Z-Drags 7) twin 5-1 Z-Drags.

    1. a)  note: any raft which cannot be recovered with twin 5-1 z-drags will be abandoned and recoved at a later time without guests there.

    2. b)  all protocols for mechanical advantage are referenced in the manual provided by the Swiftwater Safety Institute, which serves as a fundamental reference point for all of our swiftwater rescue procedures.

  2. Guests on pinned rafts: Guests who are in a pinned raft with a guide and do not have a life threatening emergency will remain in the raft until the raft is un-pinned. If someone has a life threatening emergency and the pinned raft cannot be successfully unstuck within a reasonable estimated amount of time, the crew may resort to a “tension diagonal” rescue procedure which will be incorporated via strong swimmer rescue if the guest can safely enter the water and participate in that rescue, or by kayak attached to the tension diagonal, or a raft which will be attached to the tension diagonal. If this is the case, the guest will be transported to the quickest access side of the river, then ferried across (if applicable) to an evacuation location on the left side of the river, and wait there for emergency personell.

  3. All pins or wraps will require an incident report. All raft and pin procedures are provided to guides and are continuously posted on the company database.

S. IncidentCommandHeirarchy

  1. Luke Baugh

  2. Joshua Larsen

  3. Blake Henderson

Incident Response

A. FirstAid:AllFirstAidshallbetendedtopromptlyanddecypheredtobelife threatening, “non life threatening no-go”, or “non life threatening go”. These three are detailed below. Note: all medical response systems are the ones provided to us by Remote Medical International, which is the standard for all of our trips. These procedures are also provided to guides and are continuously posted on the company database, with permission from RMI.

1. Life Threatening: Immediately dial 911 and instruct EMS to meet the trip leader at specified location. Location for meetup for EMS will be at 1 of the 4 pre-arranged evacuation locations along the river, or, if there is house which is closer and more accessible, the address of the house will be communicated to the dispatcher.

a) note: if the victim has suffered from a head, neck, or spinal injury or is otherwise immovable by RMI standards, the victim shall remain wherever they are until EMS services can reach them. Otherwise, attempt to get the victim to the road or to a location where the ambulance can easily access them.

  1. Non Life threatening “no-go” is defined as someone who has a non-life threatening injury, which has been assessed by the trip leader as one which does not require the call for 911, but cannot continue on the trip safely or has chosen to opt out by their own admission. This person will be asked if they would like us to call 911. At any rate, they will be evacuated to one of the 4 pre-arranged evacuation locations and picked up by a shuttle driver or a friend during or at the end of the trip.

  2. Non Life threatening “go” is defined as someone with a non-life threatening injury who can continue on for the remainder of the trip in a safe manner for both themselves and the other participants of the trip. These guests may have simple scrape or skin tear wounds which can be treated on the river by using steri-strips and tegaderm. Otherwise, this could potentially be someone who has a preexisting medical condition which might have “flared up” during the trip, but has since subsided to a degree where it is safe to continue.

  1. CPR:Allnon-responsivevictimswithaclearairwaywillbegivenCPR.Note: hands-only CPR will be taught to guides at TRT in cases where there is only one responder. Otherwise CPR protocols will adhere to the industry standard or by that of Heart-Saver CPR courses provided by the American Heart Association. These procedures are provided to guides and are continuously posted on the company database.

  2. IncidentCommander:Inalllifethreateningemergenciesorrescuesituations,the “IC” is the trip leader of the trip. This person is responsible for the overseeing of the incident response, as well as filling out the incident report at the end of trip and/or communicating details to ownership about the event. This person has the authority to make any and all decisions regarding rescue procedures, and has access to all company resources to this end. All Incident Commanders are given the authority to operate outside of company policy, granted that they have the experience and training to do so, and that the incident demands a more creative solution of them than has been provided in this and other company documents. Triad River Tours believes that every rescue is unique and significantly different than any other, and new “types” or variances in rescue situations are constantly appearing which may require a creative or even experimental approach to recovery and safe passage. We entrust our Trip Leaders to do whate needs to be done, on a day to day basis, to keep other guides and our guests, as safe as possible.

VI. Media & Family Response for Emergency or Fatality

  1. Allguidesandtripleadersareencouragednottotalktothemediainthecaseof an emergency or fatality. Only the owner of the company or river manager (Luke Baugh) is responsible for talking to the media. Next of kin will be informed, if necessary, in the event of a life threatening emergency or fatality by the trip leader.

  2. Greatsensitivitywillbegrantedtothenextofkinshouldafatalityoccur.Guides are trained to communicate effectively to the family, and preferably only one guide will come forward (the trip leader) to communicate with the family, while also carrying on duties as a guide.

C. Allfamilymemberswillbegivenallfactualinformationoftheincident,anda follow up call will also be placed to answer any lingering questions. We will avoid, at all times, delays in getting information to the family and/or next of kin.

  1. Allfamilymemberswillhaveourfullsupportandcooperationinanysituation regarding a serious injury, emergency, or fatality on one of our river trips.

  2. Thenextofkinwillbegiventhepersonalphonenumbersofthetripleaderand company owner or river manager. These people will also have access to counseling service numbers and any other applicable information which could be useful to the family members who contact us.

  3. In the event of a fatality, Triad River Tours will voluntarily take one day to take the family down the river and observe the location of the incident, explaining all detailed information of the event at this time.

  4. In the event of a fatality, Triad River Tours will voluntarily take a trip to the home of the family to discuss any concerns they may have within weeks of the incident, or when deemed appropriate.

Signed by River Manager/Owner of Triad River Tours: Luke E. Baugh

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