Partnership leads to game changer for swiftwater rescuer safety

The makers of Spare Air team up with PSI to revolutionize swiftwater rescue.

Public Safety Institute and Submersible Systems are pleased to announce the launch of the first type-approved Swiftwater Breathing Apparatus (SWBA®) for first responders to water rescue incidents.

This innovative product is the result of a successful collaboration between two industry leaders, combining their expertise to create a product that will revolutionize the safety of those responding to flood and swiftwater incidents.

Based on Submersible Systems’ highly successful HEED3, a compressed air emergency breathing system used by crews to escape ditched aircraft in water, the HEED SWBA® provides a new concept of surface-level respiratory protection for swiftwater and flood rescue personnel.

It is designed to be mounted on the rescuer’s Personal Floatation Device (lifejacket), allowing for hands-free operation and maximum mobility. By always ensuring it is used in conjunction with a PFD, this prevents diving, clearly distinguishing it from traditional self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) operations.

According to Dr. Steve Glassey, Director of Public Safety Institute, “SWBA is not a diving system; it provides those extra breaths a rescuer needs to carry out a rescue, such as untangling debris that is entrapping a victim, surviving being swept away through rapids, or giving their teammates that critical extra time needed to rescue them if needed. In swiftwater, everything is measured in how long you can hold your breath; SWBA gives valuable minutes that can literally mean the difference between life and death.”

Similarly, Christeen Buban, CEO of Submersible Systems Inc., said, “We are excited to be working with Dr. Glassey to launch the SWBA® product line. Our expertise in designing and manufacturing the iconic Spare Air & HEED systems for over 40 years, combined with Public Safety Institute’s knowledge of swiftwater rescue situations, has resulted in a product that we believe will set a new standard for safety in the industry.”

The SWBA has undergone rigorous testing and has received type approval under the Good Practice Guide – Swiftwater Breathing Apparatus. It is now available for purchase from or through any authorized Spare Air dealer.

In conclusion, the SWBA® is a revolutionary product that will change the way first responders approach swiftwater rescue situations. The collaboration between Public Safety Institute and Submersible Systems has resulted in a product that is reliable, easy-to-use, and designed with the safety of first responders in mind. We encourage all swiftwater professionals and whitewater paddlers to visit the website to learn more about the SWBA® and how it can improve their safety in the field.

Download the HEED3-SWBA® product flyers below:

HEED3 SWBA Flyer (A4)

HEED3 SWBA Flyer (US Letter)

For upcoming specialist and instructor courses, visit our SWBA page.

FAQ on demonstration units and dealership queries.