The  International Rescue Instructors Association Risk Management Matrix® began as an informal body of knowledge based on the combined documented experience of over 100,000 hrs of swiftwater experience of Jim Segerstrom (since 1984) and Jim Lavalley (since 1988).

This experience includes their research and field work as international, court recognized subject matter experts, in court cases they on worked together, regarding fatal accidents in this environment and the resulting coroner inquiries and civil litigation.

In many of these cases, there were no standards or regulations in place regarding Standard of Care and it had to be created case by case. This was based on the record of performance of rational, objective and successful persons operating in similar situations (mandate, tasks and environment).

In 2002 Jim Lavalley began to formalize and structure this research and evidence based, body on knowledge into the objective, Risk Management Matrix®.

For example, environmental matrices rank risks into four objective levels:

  • Low
  • Moderate
  • High
  • Extreme
  • ALL LEVELS 1-4: ‘GO-NO GO’, Based upon individual ability. If you are not prepared for the environment you are working in that is willful volition regarding ‘no go’.
1. Must have the training
2. Must have the experience
3. Must make the right decisions

As applied to the ability to survive in a specific environment of;

  • An untrained, healthy adult
  • A trained, experienced and equipped expert, in the land, water and aerial environments.

For example: the water environment has matrices for rivers, flood, surf and storm surge.

Regarding rivers, the IRIA Risk Management Matrix® is based on nineteen objective criteria, in both scope and frequency, in determined levels of risk; which can be applied all people/organizations operating in this environment.

The international river classification system developed as a guideline for canoeists and kayakers is based on two subjective factors in six levels of difficulty.

Both systems certainly have their place, however in some applications (in court and in developing professional standards) objective, evidence based criteria has shown to have some advantages over subject, opinion based guidelines.

The IRIA Risk Management Matrix® is the foundation of the IRIA professional Standards.

Q. How do I get there?

A. Take a certified course that will help you get there. You are not an expert after training, you need to head back to the environment to gain the experience and get into the discipline