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 Award: This award recognizes 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, competence, and far reaching impact are key criteria. Only one award may be presented in any calendar year.

Program and Team Development Award: Presented to individuals or agencies that commit time, resources, education, and training for successful swiftwater and flood rescue team development. The program must reflect excellence and defines state-of-the-art advancement for swiftwater and flood rescue. Program model exemplifies the science and safety of water rescue. Long-range outcomes are a fundamental criterion. Multiple awards may be presented in any calendar year.

Incident Award: A specific water rescue, recovery operation, or prolonged mission that clearly demonstrates outstanding training, skill and preparedness in a swiftwater or flood rescue. Incident nomination can be individual, multiple individuals, and/or teams. Multiple awards may be presented in a calendar year.

Special Commendation Award: Recognizes the breadth of possible contribution in the field of swiftwater and flood rescue. The award can be for media contribution, product innovations, strategic planning, individual heroism, esprit de corps, or recommendation by the Higgins and Langley Board of Directors. Multiple awards may be presented in a calendar year.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Reserved for those few individuals who (because of their work, actions, influence, and dedication) make a significant and lasting impact in the field of swiftwater and flood rescue. Criteria include time-honored or notable results. Lifetime Achievement Awards represent the pinnacle accomplishment for an individual’s career.

Click here to nominate an individual or team for an award