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Trip Leader Rescue Training

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Hank Brooks | Tampa Bay Sea Kayakers
Published Friday, June 01, 2007

TBSK is a social paddle club - to be successful, we need to get out on the water and paddle. That means the heart of the club are the Trip Leaders who are proud to give their time in showing other club members some of their favorite places to paddle. The purpose of this paddle-picnic was for the Trip Leaders to practice their rescue skills and to give them a steak lunch as a small "thank you" for all that they do for the club. If you are not already a Trip Leader, please consider sharing this great sport by becoming one.

Getting Ready
Fifteen TBSK Trip Leaders came to our first Trip Leader Rescue Training & Picnic held on an April Saturday at Fort DeSoto park. We were pleased to have Phyllis and Dave Murphy (our Training/ Safety Coordinators) giving the instruction. OK, Phyllis gave the instruction while Dave stayed on shore recovering from heart surgery, giving unsolicited "advice".

We were all pleased that the sun was shining and it was reasonably warm (about 75 degrees). However, the wind was blowing at about 10 mph with gusts to 15 mph. We were to quickly learn how much more difficult it is to perform a rescue in windy weather.

Rescue Me!
Phyllis got us all on the water and she asked one person to purposely capsize and another person to rescue them. We soon learned that holding on to your paddle and boat was essential in conducting a rescue on a windy day. On several occasions the boat slipped away from the capsized person's grasp. The wind then pushed the rescuer with the capsized boat away from the person in the water at a faster pace than the person in the water could swim after their boat. If this was a real rescue situation, can you imagine trying to take the empty boat in tow back to the person in the water so that you could perform the required rescue procedure?

As we progressed through the group, everyone talked about the lessons they were learning. Then Phyllis instructed that we practice an "all in" exercise. This occurs when all kayakers go over at the same time. You have to get one person back in their boat and then proceed to rescue the other people in the water.

Major lessons learned include:

  • To be good at rescues, we need to practice them often so that we can do them routinely.
  • Take into account the physical condition of the person being rescued because they might not be able to do all rescues.
  • You must practice the words you will use to talk the person being rescued thru the rescue you want to perform.
  • Remind the person in the water to hold onto their boat by hanging onto a deck line or keeping a foot in their boat. Rescue practice is primarily about the rescuer learning how to perform rescues and how to talk the person in the water thru the rescue the rescuer wants to perform.
  • All TBSKers should have a least one rescue they can perform efficiently and quickly.
  • Learn how to do rescues in the wind, which can blow the boat away from the paddler faster than the paddler can swim after the boat.
  • Many instructors believe that a paddle leash is a hindrance when performing rescues because of the chance of getting entangle in the leash.
  • Ensure that everyone has on a tight PFD before launching.
  • Use of slings or stirrups can greatly assist in a rescue.
  • Carry Sea Snips or a knife to cut entangled lines in an emergency.
  • Check for hazards, have a third person available to stabilize and assist (contact tow).
  • Keep calm - rescues don't have to be perfect, they just have to work.

Last update Thursday, January 17, 2008

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