Personal Watercraft Rescue


Personal Watercraft Rescue

Personal Watercraft Set-up and Handling for Rescue Operations

Two and a half day program surface rescue program

Personal watercraft (PWC) rescue requires a multiple of skills, techniques and types of equipment that must be redundantly practiced for the rescue to be safe and effective.

Like all our programs, Personal Watercraft Rescue is customized to your department’s needs in terms of environmental conditions; personnel skill levels, types of drowning, and types of vessels and equipment available.

Some of the topics covered in the program include:

  • Rescuer Safety & Accident Prevention
  • What are the minimum skills a PWC operator should have to handle a vessel during rescues in various situations
  • PWC Maintenance and Minor Repair – How to save the department a significant amount of money and downtime.
  • How to find the victim(s) – where to stage and where to first look.  This is an often overlooked topic. A windsurfer has not returned home.  A distress call from a boater is received during a storm followed by no more communication.  Where do we begin looking for the victims?
  • Victim Extrication and handling – establishing positive buoyancy, safely securing the conscious, injured, or unconscious victim on to the vessel.

Skills performed by every student.

1.    Swim test – each student will be scored and placed in one of three different levels of swimmer. In real operations, each level of swimmer has different responsibilities in the operation. These levels are used in making the plan of action immediately prior to the operation, and are used to designate duties in the team’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) manual.

2.    Rescue swimmer skills including:

- Self-Defense procedures – these are different than what lifeguards are taught since rescue swimmers, unlike lifeguards, are buoyant because of a PFD or wetsuit, and cannot therefore use the “descend” self-defense procedures.

-Immediate establishment of victim positive buoyancy with torpedo buoys, grasp aids, and flotation slings.

-Securing the victim for pick-up

-Multiple victim procedures

3.    Rapid PWC set-up with and without the sled. Please note that we do not teach the use of a Stokes basket as a sled. This device has proven less than safe and effective in a variety of situations. We use a tow sled specifically designed for PWC. There are several such sleds on the market. Stokes baskets were never designed to be towed in the water behind any craft.

4.    PWC preparation procedures immediately prior to launching to prevent stalling and other problems.

5.    Rapid Deployment Launching Procedures

6.    PWC roll-over – rescuers should be able to flip the PWC upside down, and re-right it with both rescuers back-on the craft in less than 8 seconds. This is an important skill for a variety of reasons, including avoiding collision with an object or a victim, avoiding craft flooding, and decreased downtime to make the rescue.

7.    PWC operation:

-Students will run an obstacle course at low and rapid approach speeds.

- Learn the stopping distance for a variety of approach speeds, and how wind and current affect this.

- Work with wind and current to approach and stop within a hands-distance from a mannequin, without touching the mannequin. No wake may be created either to avoid putting water over or moving a drowning victim. This is a very important skill to prevent rescuers from accidentally hitting or drowning fragile victims.

- Learn how to re-approach the victim if the first try was a failure.

8.    Victim approach and extrication from the water with and without a sled.

9.    Multiple victim operations

10.  Openwater backboarding techniques with flotation back-boards for trauma victims and trauma patient stabilization on sled with back-board.

11.  Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on sled procedures during transport to shore or receiving vessel.

12.  Trauma management during extrication from water and during transport.  With an increased number of recreational PWC users, the number of trauma-related water emergencies will rise. Several papers have been published on the traumatic injuries of PWC riders.  Head injuries are one of the more common problems.

If we discover that the students need any additional skills for their environments or type if incidents, these will be included as appropriate.

 

Course Set-up

This program requires a classroom for approximately 4 hours with a black or white board. This lecture includes proper PWC operation techniques, current and wind equations, rescue swimmer skills, drowning patient management, the ground rules of the program.  Much of this information will appear later on the final written examination.

Part two of the program takes place outside where the PWCs sit on their trailers.  We examine each PWC and provide instruction on how to better set it up for rescue operations and proper maintenance procedures.  This information, plus that provided in the classroom, is then used to set up each PWC with an all hands-on cooperative effort.

The class moves to the water site.  Various stations will be set up for hands-on rescues with PWCs, exposure suits and fins, shore based procedures and more.

Maximum number of students: 25 with a maximum ratio of 1 PWC to 3 students

Required Equipment: helmets, PFDs (personal flotation device) wet or drysuit, appropriate gloves. Helmets can be provided to students who do not have their own.

Certification: Wall Certificate provided in course.

Course Costs: $3,000 plus travel costs and two hotel rooms for the duration of the program. Certification Photograph-Identification Cards are available at an additional $25 per student at class, $26 if purchased after class.