James (Jim) Farrell Segerstrom
Jim Segerstrom is considered the founding father of organized training for flood and swiftwater rescue.
He had many friends in the water rescue community. We do miss his energy, wit and driven sense of purpose.
We enjoyed working with Jim for the Rigg Challenge that was created in honor of our friend Nancy Rigg. This was an outstanding
technical rally showcasing teams, knowledge, experience and timing.
Gone But Not Forgotten
We are river people whom mother nature’s rhythms have touched quite closely and been taught by one of her most unique characteristics. A river flows dynamically through its course, its lifespan. It maneuvers around obstacles sometimes avoiding them, sometimes breaking through them, but always traveling towards its end where ever and when ever that end may be. Yet that end is not finite. It is merely the beginning of another journey as the water is evaporated into the sky and re-deposited giving life to another river as it runs a new course. This is simple science, but the metaphor goes far beyond.
I’ve been fortunate to watch Jim interact with many rivers. He was a master of reading water. Skills can take you so far, but a carnal understanding of its powers goes much deeper. Jim was a very good at knowing when an obstacle needed to be avoided and when it could be charged full-on. He was the driving force, the main instigator, behind many innovations in professional rescue education. Safety was number one important. Above and beyond his exploits as a rescue icon he was an innovative leader and catalyst for thousands of people. .
Jim changed the professional rescue community at its core He brought focus back to what it means to train hard and rescue victims safely. Few know how difficult it was to establish the Swiftwater Rescue standard around the world. It started by researching a body of knowledge that did not really exist prior to the founding of Rescue 3 in 1979, and then proceeding on a 10 year expedition around the world to develop it. We worked hard, and our laboratory was a collection of some of the most challenging rescue locations in the world. We learned through trial and error how to give an initiation and empowerment to would be rescuers who faced the terror of moving water. We learned early the importance of the "moving baptism". The critical need to drownproof rescuers by immersing them extensively in the very element they feared.
Everyone thought we were crazy, and that this was excessive and dangerous training. Jim knew the importance of transmuting rescuer fear into rescuer understanding, joy and respect for the element of moving water. There is no doubt that these efforts will continue to bear fruit with fewer rescuer deaths and improved victim outcome around the globe. Let us not forget that Jim was instrumental in planting these amazing karmic seeds. Jim packed a lot of joy for us all in that dash between Feb 1946-Feb 2007. Godspeed my friend.
James Farrell Segerstrom
Feb. 21, 1946 — Feb. 5, 2007
James Farrell Segerstrom, a Sonora resident on and off for 58 years, died Feb. 5 at a San Francisco hospital.
He graduated from Sonora Elementary School, attended Sonora Union High School and graduated from high school at Menlo School in Menlo Park. He graduated from the University of the Pacific in Stockton.
Mr. Segerstrom was a paramedic for 10 years. He established and pioneered the Swift Water Rescue Technician program, which was created in Sonora and became the premier program of its kind world wide.
A Civil War buff, he had a large collection of toy soldiers and enjoyed studying military history. He was in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves for two years.
He was preceded in death by his father, Donald Segerstrom.
Mr. Segerstrom is survived by his wife of 25 years, Shiree of Sonora; a son, James "Christian" Segerstrom of Sonora; his mother, Mary Etta Segerstrom of Sonora; a sister, Ann Segerstrom of San Francisco; three brothers, Donald Segerstrom of Sonora, David Segerstrom of San Diego and Steven Segerstrom of Nevada City; and many cousins, nephews and nieces.
RIGG CHALLENGE EVENT
SEGERSTROM'S RESCUE PRAYER
When I am called to duty God,
Whenever people fall,
Give me the strength to save one life,
whatever be the call.
Whether on foot or in flight, Oh Lord
with all of your might,
Lead me to embrace the small, lost child
or save the injured from the wild.
Out from rivers edge or overlooking this ledge,
Enable me to be alert and hear the
to quickly and efficiently bring
my brother out.
With my desire to serve, ability to
perform and the courage to act,
Lord, allow me to deliver my neighbor
There are no bounds to which I'll give,
These things I do so that others may live.
And when according to your will,
My earthly tasks must end,
Lord, Please bless with your protecting hand
My family and my friends.
Segerstrom's Memorial Tribute:
Adapted and read by Jacquelyn Potts-TCSAR
February 17, 2007