By Melissa Wynn

[media-credit id=4 align=”alignnone” width=”300″]Abigail Pulsvy (in purple) and her USFS Class[/media-credit] –

I never gave much thought to how rescue workers acquire their skill until I stumbled upon a  lesson in progress in the rapid, late spring waters of Deer Creek. I was strolling through the Potato Patch Campground on Hwy 32 with a friend, when excited voices  near the water inspired us to investigate.  To our great surprise, we discovered Abigail Polsvy, owner and instructor of Sierra Rescue, training a group of US Forest Service employees to retrieve those accidentally caught in swift water.

We watched in amazement as these courageous trainees braved the rapids of Deer Creek, full to the brim with an exceptionally heavy spring thaw. Dressed in wetsuits to protect them from the icy water, several students took the plunge. Others remained on shore and  practiced “throwing a line” to their would be victim. The water roared,  carrying 2009 Rescue 3 instructor of the year Abigail and her students along at a clipping pace. One by one, they were pulled safely from the chilly, rushing creek. What a rush!

We were so lucky in our timing, that not only were we able to observe this dangerous and intriguing process, we arrived just in time to visit with the class as they enjoyed a picnic lunch break. This adventurous group of future USFS heroes was comprised of  Matt House, Melanie McFarland, Emily Fudge, Ryan Foote, Cassie Kinnard, Kaley Phillips,Nick Delucchi, Jeff McFarland,Michael Parker, Chris Mayes and Cavan Quam. A commendable assortment of young people learning to keep all of us safer as we enjoy the summer fun of swimming, white water rafting, kayaking and so much more.

Sierra Rescue has Rescue 3 Swiftwater Rescue Technician, Technical Rope Rescue and Wilderness First Responder training facilities in Quincy on the Feather River, Coloma on the South Fork American River and in Knights Ferry on the Stanislaus River. Abigail and co-owner Julie Munger specialize in the Rescue 3 Swiftwater Rescue Technician, Rescue 3 Whitewater Rescue, Wilderness First Aid, Technical Rope Rescue, Technical Animal Rescue and Wilderness First Responder Courses. With more than 25 years experience, Sierra Rescue provides expert instruction and superior training experience in the outdoor rescue professional industry. Sierra Rescue is California’s premiere Rescue 3 Swift Water Rescue Instruction Company. Specializing in hands-on training, all swiftwater rescue instruction courses get you into the water. All white water training sites are specially selected for their excellence and make Sierra Rescue the California Regional Training Center for Rescue 3 International.

If you are interested in taking a rescue course or arranging one for your employees, visit their website at or give Julie and Abigail a call in Taylorsville at 800.208.2723.

Hats off to Sierra Rescue for training hundreds of every day heroes including…


  • California Fish and Game
  • US Forest Service employees
  • US Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers
  • Humboldt, Los Angeles and San Francisco
  • US Air Force Pararescue 58th Squadron,
  • Las Vegas and 306th Pararescue Squadron
  • NCOIC Medical/Water Operations
  • Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, AZ
  • Ventura County SAR

University and Colleges:

  • University of Puget Sound
  • UC Davis
  • Sacramento State
  • University of Louisiana
  • Feather River College

Fire Departments:

  • Palo Alto Fire
  • Ceres Fire
  • Stanislaus Fire
  • Fairbanks Fire
  • Norco Fire
  • LA Fire and Life Guards
  • Long Beach Fire and Life Guards
  • Sierra Vista Fire Department and RATS
  • Squaw Valley Fire
  • East Contra Costa Fire


  • Stillwater Sciences Consulting
  • Power Engineering Contractors
  • Korea Rescue Services
  • Heavenly Valley Ski Patrol
  • Squaw Valley Ski Patrol

Enjoy a full gallery of photos from this grand adventure by visiting this post in the adventures category on our website,