-- Last Updated: Apr-14-13 11:57 PM EST --
You need to get skirts, and flotation bags for your kayaks and a throw bag.
Some training wouldn't hurt if you plan to continue to assist in rescuing buffons.
Priorities: 1. paddler
If the swimmer is in a state of panic; you should have kept their boat, your boat, a paddle, or a pfd between you & the swimmer, to use as flotation for them,and/or to pull them to shore. Give them specific directions about what you want them to do, and what you are going to do. If you go after them in your boat; you & your boat will likely get dumped in any rescue attempt. Better left to the skilled paddlers.
Letting a swimmer in a state of panic grab you is a big NO NO! If they do grab you; get loose, and do whatever it takes to make that happen.
I do NOT suggest slugging them; never heard of that from any instructor trainer I had. Sounds bogus. Some will let go if you go underwater; they are using you in an attempt to stay above water. If this does work; a "firm" grip of a very tender spot & a guy will definitely turn you loose. If they don't let go; you ain't squeezing hard enough. Not kidding! When they let go(they will); get some distance between them & you, and maintain that distance. Not saying quit trying to help. I am saying you will do them no good if you allow them to drown you. You will need to learn to assess the situation, reassess the situation if necessary, and it probably will.
You can learn some talking/reading about rescue situations, but bottom line, the best thing you can do is take a class & then practice the techniques. Example: A throw bag is worthless, and may present an additional hazard to the swimmer, if you don't know how to use it correctly. That takes practice.
An introduction to Swiftwater Rescue class would be great; well worth the money & effort.
It might save someone's life someday.
The life you save may be yours, or you wifes.
Ex Advanced Swiftwater Rescue Instructor
Ex Lifeguard Instructor
Been there; done that.
Bent Shaft Canoe Paddles
Electric Kayak Motor
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