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2018 AOTY/DOTY Entry

Topic: How do i help someone who cannot self rescue?  (Read 1243 times)

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Scurvy

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Hello kayak anglers,

I know a lot has been written on practicing self rescue.

So Ronaldo, did you read those posts?

Tote's post has a lot of good info in it, but I want to clarify a couple of his points:

  • 1  The rescuer's safety is #1 priority in all decisions and actions.  Sad but true because the fewer at-risk people in the water, the better.
  • 2  Getting the victim to help has 2 benefits:  It makes a tough job somewhat easier AND it gets them thinking about productive things instead of panicking.
  • 3  Taking a cue from whitewater kayakers, who have the toughest conditions to overcome, the most successful method is to approach the re-entry from either end of the boat, a la "cowboy style," not directly from the side of the cockpit.

Rivers are very different from lakes and oceans, by definition they are moving water and if they are active enough to tip someone out, then the river will likely have a lot of physical obstacles that are hazardous to all boaters.  Here are some thoughts:

  •   The obstacles include the obvious rock, and the very dangerous downed trees and branches, which are known as "strainers."  Not only do these knock boaters over, their submerged branches are notorious for catching and keeping "swimmers" (boaters that have fallen out of their boats) underwater.  Trees are killers, and unfortunately they are often along the river banks, which is exactly where "swimmers" need/want to go.
  • River rescues and recoveries mostly involve getting the "swimmer" back to the shore, which is generally a short trip.  The problem is that the boater and the boat are easily separated and this can mean the boater is seriously stranded.
  • Often, the rivers have too many trees, big rocks, or steep sides to allow immediate or direct exiting.  This can mean that the swimmer may have to stay in the water much longer in order to safely bypass dangerous obstacles and arrive at a safe exit point.
  • Because the river is moving the boaters along, rescuer(s) must continually evaluate the conditions and reassess their plan, including the potential need to abandon the victim.
  • Fast moving rivers are mostly in mountainous areas and therefore the water is COLD.  Slower moving rivers are mostly warmer.
  • If conditions allow on-the-water fiddling/reentry, using the paddle as an additional grab bar to reenter can be a big help, here's how:  Keep the victim boat between the victim and the rescuer, the victim's paddle gets laid across the rear of the victim cockpit/seat, perpendicular to the boat, the rescuer can then press/hold down the end of the paddle that is on the rescue side of the boat and the victim can then grab the paddle with one hand and the gunwale with the other and more easily pull up onto the gunwale and/or swing a leg up onto/into the cockpit.  It can help for the rescuer to sit on the end of the paddle.  This paddle helps stabilize the boat before, during, and after the victim reenters.


Tinker

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Everyone has overlooked the emotional state of the person who needs help.  If they're panicked there's not much you're going to say that will get them to calm down and act rationally, and that puts you in danger.

When I was a rescue swimmer, I had to forcefully kick people off and away from me  many times.
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Ronaldo

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Thanks ya'll for the responses.  Scurvy-I read them all including yours.  Thanks.   I see the common practice is mainly helping stabilize the kayak and helping them get to shore.  If they cover this sort of thing in one of those kayak safety classes please let me know.  I'm asking because when I went to the last GS I heard over the radio people assisting someone who had fallen off and I wondered how are they assisting him.  I agree with the comments about not letting the person drag you in too.  My Grandpa used to say you can only help a person out to the point where they start dragging you down with them. 
Three-fourths of the Earth's surface is water, and one-fourth is land. It is quite clear that the good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn.


eelkram

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  If they cover this sort of thing in one of those kayak safety classes please let me know. 

I believe that self-recovery/assisted recovery is covered in most of the basic ocean kayak classes... which is why they are prerequisites for the more advanced classes.  I took the CCK kayak fishing class and it was well worth it.  They explain the techniques (self-rescue, w/paddle, w/o paddle, paddle floats, inflatable bags, etc), demonstrate the techniques, and then make you go swimming to practice all the techniques.  Then they teach you how to do the buddy rescue techniques... then you switch up kayaks and try self-rescues on different hull shapes.  It was totally worth the time and money.  Or, just go to a NCKA self rescue practice hook-up.   :smt003
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Tote

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Sometime getting back to shore really is not an option because there is no shore.
Cliffs and rock outcroppings make it impossible to just 'take the guy to shore'.
Once they are in the kayak you can pick your spot when it presents itself.
<=>


Tinker

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When I was a rescue swimmer, I had to forcefully kick people off and away from me  many times.

Well, when you are a rescue swimmer, the person probably doesn't have a PFD on and might be actively drowning and trying to use YOU as a flotation device. Hopefully with a kayak fisherman, they have a PFD on (right?!) are dressed for immersion (right?!) and are hanging onto a giant flotation device (their SOT hopefully, not a SINK!). So hopefully it's just a case of getting them up and onto their boat.

That said, no doubt folks could be freaking out, especially if they are failing to get back on, are around rocks and waves, getting cold, or whatever. Or are wearing shorts and a cotton T-shirt, no PFD, etc. Like with all aid/rescue/etc. I'm sure forcefully and confidently taking control of the situation makes a big difference (as Tote talked about).

Rescue swimming sounds dangerous!

Should have explained this: I was a Rescue Swimmer in the Coast Guard, not a lifeguard, and most were wearing a PFD.  In the water, in an emergency, even with a helicopter hovering overhead, people can get weird.
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Scurvy

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  If they cover this sort of thing in one of those kayak safety classes please let me know. 

I believe that self-recovery/assisted recovery is covered in most of the basic ocean kayak classes... which is why they are prerequisites for the more advanced classes.  I took the CCK kayak fishing class and it was well worth it.  They explain the techniques (self-rescue, w/paddle, w/o paddle, paddle floats, inflatable bags, etc), demonstrate the techniques, and then make you go swimming to practice all the techniques.  Then they teach you how to do the buddy rescue techniques... then you switch up kayaks and try self-rescues on different hull shapes.  It was totally worth the time and money.  Or, just go to a NCKA self rescue practice hook-up.   :smt003

Best advice in the whole thread.  (Most of us have started here)


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  If they cover this sort of thing in one of those kayak safety classes please let me know. 

I believe that self-recovery/assisted recovery is covered in most of the basic ocean kayak classes... which is why they are prerequisites for the more advanced classes.  I took the CCK kayak fishing class and it was well worth it.  They explain the techniques (self-rescue, w/paddle, w/o paddle, paddle floats, inflatable bags, etc), demonstrate the techniques, and then make you go swimming to practice all the techniques.  Then they teach you how to do the buddy rescue techniques... then you switch up kayaks and try self-rescues on different hull shapes.  It was totally worth the time and money.  Or, just go to a NCKA self rescue practice hook-up.   :smt003

That was a great class.

One thing taught there but so far not mentioned so far; I've used this on flat water and it works well. Have the person in trouble (if they can't get back into their boat for whatever reason) hug the bottom of your kayak at the nose. Arms and legs. It does create massive drag, and it's a bitch to paddle, but it works for short distances. Not really first choice stuff, but it's a good one to have in the arsenal. When I used this I also tied a tow rope to the other kayak (flooded SIK) and dragged that behind me. If this wasn't on a calm lake not too far from shore, I probably would have done something different.
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MontanaN8V

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Go someplace relatively safe and warm. When they least expect it, flip them. #sinkorswimmethod
Once they realize how important it is to learn the technique or remain bobbing....
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pmmpete

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One thing taught there but so far not mentioned so far; I've used this on flat water and it works well. Have the person in trouble (if they can't get back into their boat for whatever reason) hug the bottom of your kayak at the nose. Arms and legs. It does create massive drag, and it's a bitch to paddle, but it works for short distances. Not really first choice stuff, but it's a good one to have in the arsenal. When I used this I also tied a tow rope to the other kayak (flooded SIK) and dragged that behind me. If this wasn't on a calm lake not too far from shore, I probably would have done something different.
Not a good idea. Have the swimmer hang on to the stern handle or grab loop of your kayak and kick their feet so they lay horizontal in the water.  This is how whitewater kayakers get swimmers to shore.  There is still a lot of drag, but way less than having the swimmer bear hug the bow of your kayak, and a swimmer hanging onto the stern of your kayak won't interfere with your paddle stroke or the stability of your kayak.


Str8FishiN

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During the L2 Rescue Class I took with CCK, we learned a technique where you tie two kayaks together to make a super stable platform.  You can stand up and pull someone out of the water if you need to and even do CPR. 
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eelkram

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Not a good idea. Have the swimmer hang on to the stern handle or grab loop of your kayak and kick their feet so they lay horizontal in the water.  This is how whitewater kayakers get swimmers to shore.  There is still a lot of drag, but way less than having the swimmer bear hug the bow of your kayak, and a swimmer hanging onto the stern of your kayak won't interfere with your paddle stroke or the stability of your kayak.

If I remember correctly, the reasoning to have them on the bow is  so you can continue to monitor them during (the potentially long distance) movement. It's also less work for the person to hold on because the water pressure keeps them pressed against the bow. 

It makes sense in swift water to grab the stern and let the paddler maintain directional control of the kayak, even with the increased drag.  In open water, I think the methodology shifts from that of a sprint to safety to a steady jog.
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Not a good idea. Have the swimmer hang on to the stern handle or grab loop of your kayak and kick their feet so they lay horizontal in the water.  This is how whitewater kayakers get swimmers to shore.  There is still a lot of drag, but way less than having the swimmer bear hug the bow of your kayak, and a swimmer hanging onto the stern of your kayak won't interfere with your paddle stroke or the stability of your kayak.

If I remember correctly, the reasoning to have them on the bow is  so you can continue to monitor them during (the potentially long distance) movement. It's also less work for the person to hold on because the water pressure keeps them pressed against the bow. 

It makes sense in swift water to grab the stern and let the paddler maintain directional control of the kayak, even with the increased drag.  In open water, I think the methodology shifts from that of a sprint to safety to a steady jog.

Yes, this is a good deal of it, especially where hypothermia might be a concern. It was also described as a way to help someone that might be in rough enough shape that they can't swim behind. FWIW, on a 14' boat, there was no interference to paddle stroke, and only minimal effect on boat stability.
14' Necky Dolphin, fast and wiggly, no room for anything.
Old Mitchell reel junkie.


 

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