The Higgins & Langley Memorial 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. Click here to find out more.

Our History

The Higgins and Langley Memorial Awards in Swiftwater Rescue honor outstanding achievement in the technical rescue discipline of swiftwater and flood rescue. They are not heroism awards, but rather 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.

Award Categories

Outstanding Achievement: Is the premier internationally-recognized award for excellence in swiftwater and flood rescue. It signifies an intense dedication to the field and a genuine desire to benefit the larger community responsible for the service. Safety and competence are key criteria. Only one award may be presented in any calendar year.

Program Development: Presented to individuals or agencies that commit time, resources and training for successful swiftwater rescue program development. Programs must reflect a level of excellence that defines ‘state of the art’ deployment for swiftwater and flood rescue, and can be considered international models for the science. Long-range outcome is a fundamental criteria. Multiple awards may be
presented in any calendar year.

Incident Award: A specific incident may be recognized. Essential criteria are actions that clearly demonstrate outstanding skill and preparedness in a swiftwater rescue. Multiple awards may be presented in a calendar year.

Special Commendation: Recognizes the breadth of possible contribution in the field of swiftwater rescue. Awards of this type can be for media contribution, product innovations, strategic planning, individual heroism or esprit de corps. Results are reflected within the swiftwater community and/or the general public. Multiple awards may be presented in a calendar year.

Lifetime Achievement: Reserved for those few individuals who make a significant, lasting and continuous impact in the field of swiftwater rescue. Criteria include time-honored or notable results. Lifetime Achievement Awards are rarely awarded.

Click here to nominate an individual or team for an award