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Higgins & Langley Award
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ACA Members Receive Prestigious Higgins & Langley Swiftwater Rescue Awards


June 2, 2014 (Asheville, NC)

The Higgins & Langley Memorial and Education Fund announced the 2014 Higgins & Langley Awards, which honor outstanding achievement in the technical rescue discipline of swiftwater and flood rescue. Awards go to swiftwater and flood rescue experts worldwide in several significant categories, including the Outstanding Achievement Award, Program Development Award, Special Commendation Award, and Swiftwater Rescue Incident Award.

Sam FowlkesThe awards were established in 1993 by members of the Swiftwater Rescue Committee of the National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR) in honor of Earl Higgins, a writer and filmmaker who lost his life in 1980 while rescuing a child who was swept down the flood-swollen Los Angeles River, and Jeffrey Langley, a Los Angeles County Fire Department firefighter-paramedic and swiftwater rescue pioneer, who lost his life in a helicopter incident in 1993.  Although there is always an element of heroism involved in dangerous technical rescue operations, these are not awards for heroism, but rather awards that recognize preparedness, teamwork, and a job well done—sometimes under extreme conditions—where training is vital to the success of rescue missions, as well as the safety of rescue personnel.


Robin Pope

ACA Level 5: Advanced Swiftwater Rescue Instructor Trainer Educators, Robin Pope and Sam Fowlkes, both received Special Commendation Awards, recognizing their extraordinary efforts in organizing and hosting the first ACA Swiftwater Rescue Conference in October, 2013. The intensive, three-day, on-river training featured a series of workshops presented by some of the most respected names in swiftwater rescue, including Slim Ray, Les Bechdel, Charlie Walbridge, Aaron Peeler, Mike Mather, Walter Felton, Virgil Chambers, Pam Dillon and Jim Coffey. Participants included more than 100 recreational paddlers, certified paddlesport instructors, and emergency responders from 22 states and three foreign countries.


In addition to founding the Swiftwater Rescue Conference, Robin and Sam both volunteer countless hours serving on the ACA’s Swiftwater Rescue Committee, Safety Education & Instruction Council, and Board of Directors.


They will receive their awards on Friday, June 6, 2014, at 7:30 PM, at the annual National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR) conference in Woodcliff Lake, NJ. 

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Founded in 1880, The American Canoe Association (ACA) is a national nonprofit organization serving the broader paddling public by providing education related to all aspects of paddling; stewardship support to help protect paddling environments; and sanctioning of programs and events to promote paddlesport competition, exploration and recreation.

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