About us

Creative people. Water addicted. Forward thinking.


How we started

We began “to solve” problems on rivers in the ‘80s, when we hardly knew what a throw bag was and we were paddling barefoot.

At that time we were not professional rescuers, but simple river guides with an immense curiosity for our Planet. This enthusiasm pushed us to explore the most remote rivers in the five continents. Most of our descents took place in difficult terrain and climate. We dealt with monsoon in the Himalayas, major floods in tropical rivers, powerful snowmelt in the Alps and big rains in the Andes. Sometimes we were skilled and some other times we were lucky, but at the end of every adventure we felt thankful for having gained a bit more experience.

 River rescue 15 years ago.

In the year 1999 with Eve Eichenberger, my life- and paddling partner, we decided to share this knowledge and we started SAFE®, the first European River Rescue School.

Major sponsor of this project is Totem Adventure, operating since 1992 in the outdoors with sport and adventure programs, focusing on white water disciplines like rafting, kayaking, canyoning, hydrospeed and paragliding.

Which training should you choose?

Understanding the different needs we structure our courses in 4 categories:


AWARENESS & FIRST RESPONDER LEVEL
These courses are designed for people who work in proximity of the river for making measurements and surveys, rescue squads in charge of logistics in flooded environment, community and people who are living in flood risk areas.
Courses
Water and Flood Awareness (AW) – 1 day
Swiftwater and Flood First Responder (SFR) – 2 days


TECHNICIAN LEVEL
These trainings are dedicated to professional rescuers.
Firefighters, civil protection, Search And Rescue technicians, military personnel, police and other operators who have to respond in a flood environment, night rescues and other high risk tasks.
You can start directly from technician level without attending Awareness or First Responder Level previously.
Courses
Swiftwater and Flood Rescue Technician (SRT) – 4 Days
Swiftwater and Flood Rescue Technician – Advanced – Water (SRTA W) – 4 Days


OUTDOOR INDUSTRY
This course is specifically designed for the outdoor industry like recreational boaters, raft guides, kayaking instructors, mountain guides, canyoning guides.
It is also suitable for professional rescuers who wish to train in challenging whitewater.
Courses
Whitewater Rescue Technician Recreational (WRT-REC) – 2 Days
Whitewater Rescue Technician – Professional (WRT-PRO) – 3 Days
Whitewater Rescue Technician Advanced (WRTA) – 4 Days


HIGH SPECIALIZED TRAINING
These trainings are reserved only for technician level SRT, WRT or superior.
Courses
Rescue in low head dams (weirs) – 2 Days
Inflated Firehose / Rescue from bridges – 2 Days
Rescues from Vehicles in Water (RVW) – 2 Days
Swiftwater Paddle Boat Handling (SPBH) – 2
Advanced River Rescue with raft – (Beyond SPBH) – 3 Days


We speak your language

We teach courses in Italian, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese.
Courses are available also in German with a translator.

S.A.F.E. distinctive elements

We release official RESCUE 3™ certification, world wide recognized.

Methodical approach – our courses are not clinics or workshops but are comprehensive, competency-based programs.
Each course is delivered with a minimum of class time, skills are developed on the riverbank and in the water and all techniques are implemented in real scenarios.

ON TOP – In order to keep a high calibre teaching standard, our instructors constantly participate in conventions, seminars and trainings all over the world.
Our focus is on applying critical thinking about all the techniques. The emphasis is on encouraging students to become knowledgeable in principles and concepts of moving water and rope rigging, rather than learn them by rote. Basically we provide recipes rather than a cooked meal.

Top quality gear – To ensure safety and demonstration quality, we use just the best selection of gear available on the market. Petzl, Kong, Beal, Mammut, Cousin, Sterling, Conterra, Shockwave, Morice/Totem Adventure, Spencer,… just to mention some.

KISS – Stands for Keep It Simple and Safe. As we think that the most important piece of equipment is knowledge, every technique is taught using basic and emergency gear as well as very sophisticated equipment. That gives a much wider range of options while performing a rescue.

International Team – We collaborate with a team of top professionals coming from all over the world. All our instructors, besides teaching courses are actively involved in rescue operations.

Update & follow up – Due to the dynamic nature of our standards, certifications have 3 years validity. After that you should attend again the entire course.
We also offer one/two days follow up trainings, with real scenarios.

Where are the courses taking place?

We are based in NW Italy in Aosta Valley, Pré Saint Didier, Mont Blanc Region, but we are equipped to operate practically anywhere there is a suitable water course.

  • AWARENESS LEVEL: anywhere there is a classroom is good!
  • FIRST RESPONDER LEVEL: anywhere there is a classroom and a class I-II River.
  • TECHNICIAN LEVEL : we have several experimented camps in Italy, Switzerland, Spain, France. Enquire for details.
  • OUTDOOR INDUSTRY : better to work near rafting bases
  • SPECIALIZED TRAINING: we tend to move to your home area, in order to support you with the know how custom-made for your realities.

Who participates in our courses?

  • People and Communities who live in potential flood risk areas.
  • Safety at work: hydroelectric plant workers, technicians performing water measurements and surveys, firefighters and civil protection teams in support of rescue workers.
  • Professional rescuers, Fire fighters, Search and Rescue personnel, military personnel, police, key leaders and instructors from other rescue groups.
  • Recreational boaters, raft guides, kayaking instructors, mountain guides, canyoning guides.

Our clients love this fact:

Best in Italy – Our advice is to attend the TECHNICIAN LEVEL and OUTDOOR INDUSTRY courses near the Alps. There you can find reliable and constant water levels from April until September, which guarantees a maximum benefit for your learning.

If you like Italy, Piedmont and Aosta Valley are ideal locations. Beautiful rivers, good wine and great food.


Meet the Team

Award winning team with a passion for water and safety.

  • David Alemanni

    David Alemanni

    My dad put me on a kayak in a lake when I was 5 and I ran my first river when I was 10. I loved it! During my IT studies one friend took me rafting in a newly opened base in Aosta Valley. It was a non return point!
    I still endured my studies for a couple of years until I dropped them and decided to explore “all the rivers in the world”. My plane tickets were paid by my work as rafting and kayaking guide. I knew I was not going to make money but the call was absolutely irresistible.

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    I had the chance to organize and lead kayaking/Rafting expedition in Africa (Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa…), Asia (India, Indonesia, Nepal), in Australia and Tasmania, in Siberia, in South and Central America (Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, …), in the States…

    Every summer I was always back to Italy and in 1992 I started my own small rafting school, which slowly developed in what is today Totem Adventure: a multi adventure center which offers kayaking, rafting, canyoning, paragliding, expedition around the world and yoga. In the same years I started working for the Italian Rafting Federation and today I coordinate the training programs for over 600 active guides in Italy.

    In subsequent years I got contracted for training civil protection, police, firefighters, military and started to enter the reality of the professional rescuers. A new aspect for me and a lot to learn.

    I am learning the river from another point of view, but I realize that whether is organized rescue or outdoor industry, the common denominator is to operate in a SAFE manner.
    This means working on prevention, preparedness and training.

    In 1999 with Eve Eichenberger, my life and paddling partner we found SAFE®, the first European River Rescue school.

    Almost 20 years later I still enjoy to teach courses at any level, from beginners to high specialized firefighters in low head dams or to expert river guides having to prepare an expedition in a remote area.

    My greatest satisfaction is when the commander of the fire brigade or of the army are calling us saying:”We have this problem to solve, can you help us?”
    The more challenging the call, the bigger is my “YES!”.

  • Filippo Villa

    I started playing in the river when I was 5 on the Ticino. There I learned how to swim. Then I kept going doing swimming competitions in chlorinated water until I was 17, the year I discovered again the river from the kayaking point of view.
    Since then I never stopped.
    My passion became a job and my job a passion and I started to travel around the world working as a river guide travelling between South America, Asia and Europe.
    After some years I felt the need to start my own rafting center on the Ticino called AqQua, especially dedicated to school kids.
    A beautiful and intense experience which made me fully aware about safety for over 10 years.
    After I sold it and went back to finish my psychology studies.
    Today I operate as a clinical psychologist in private practice in Vigevano (www.spazi-impensabili.it) and I work on projects to promote well-being in high schools of the area. I lead experiential workshops on group dynamics and I am finishing school as a psychotherapist Gestalt in Turin.

    Together with David I develop the training programs for the Italian Rafting Federation and I collaborate with SAFE® in teaching courses for professional rescuers combining my technical background with the emergency & disaster psychology.

    Beside this I keep on travelling and running rivers and it is a pleasure that grow every year more.

  • Miguel Naval

    Miguel, a river and white water expert. He has many years of experience as rafting guide on the most challenging rivers around the world, where he learned first hand all about safety and river rescue. He is now teaching as an Rescue3 Instructor and passing on his vast knowledge of rescue and white water skills.
    He is a gifted teacher, kind and encouraging with great passion for his work. He gives all his heart and all his energy to his students. People always love him.

  • Paolo Benciolini
  • Andrea Remonti
  • Txus Ruiz De Erentxun
  • Nicolas Millot

Our Clients

Well known clients from all over the world.

Protezione Civile - Ministro degli Interni
Service d'incendie et de secours - Genève
Brigade de Sapeurs Pompiers de Paris
Schweizerischer Feuerwehrverband / Fédération suisse des sapeurs-pompiers
Protezione Civile VDA
Associazione Nazionale Carabinieri
Arpa Piemonte
Police Cantonale de Genève
Corpo civici pompieri Lugano
Vigili del Fuoco Aosta