Who knows best?

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Big Henry
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Who knows best?

Post by Big Henry »

After the events on the Tees yesterday around Winston Bridge, the emergency services had this to say:
Northern Echo wrote: The police officer added: "We have spoken to all the canoeists about the wisdom of going into heavily flooded water.

"Although they might claim they were very experienced, they were unable to cope with what the river had to offer and were fortunate to escape unscathed."

The police officer said the group came from across the country, including Kent and Oxford. Others were from Billingham, Seaham and Darlington.

He urged other canoeists who were planning to come to the same venue today to stay away.

"No matter how experienced they feel they are, in present conditions they are putting not only themselves but members of the public and members of the emergency services at risk," he added.
There was also an incident a while back where someone in a short playboat had to be rescued after surfing on a heavy sea, and a lifeboat crew member said his boat was more suited to a flat lake than heavy surf! (Can't remember the exact incident)

So do the emergency services who have to come and pick up the mess afterwards know better than experienced paddlers about when to paddle in high water?

Glad everyone was OK

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John Kennedy
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Post by John Kennedy »

My opinion would be that the police have no call to say this. They know nothing of flood conditions and shouldn't act like experts. Fire crews may have SRT training and can have some informed opinions, but I doubt they would know what a particular river is like in flood, whereas kayakers would, as in boaters would know that river X is too dangerous in flood, but river Y is great fun and still pretty safe in flood.
That said, it's easy to generalise that kayakers know what they're at, when a lot of the time they've no clue.
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Mark R
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Post by Mark R »

To be fair to the police, in this instance they were looking at a group of paddlers who - despite presumably claiming to be experienced, and apparently taking time to let the police/media know their slalom rankings - had just completely and totally misjudged their ability and the conditions, and had swum en masse.

Not knowing our sport and presented by these particular circumstances, the police might be forgiven for concluding that ...

a] The conditions were too dangerous for any paddlers ever.
b] Rescuing them was a PITA and a waste of their crime-fighting time.

Unfortunately this is another of those embarrassing incidents (sea paddling has had zillions of them in recent times, plus it's not so long since Dartmoor Police were attending incidents on the upper Dart every weekend) that create a less than ideal impression of us.
Last edited by Mark R on Sun Sep 07, 2008 7:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Ruari
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Post by Ruari »

So who actualy called the emergency sevices? Was it the paddlers?, becuase if it wasnt then who is to say they needed help, if they were all out and safe when the emergency crews got there, then they coped ( not very well, but they still coped) and did not need intervention from outside help so all the rubbish bout them endengering others is exactly that, rubbish.

did than make any sence?, or was that a load of babble?

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Big Henry
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Post by Big Henry »

Also reported here:
Darlington & Stockton Times wrote:A female member of the group managed to get out of the water and call 999. Police, fire and ambulance crews were despatched to the scene, with the police helicopter also being drafted in.

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Post by Ruari »

fair enough, i think the police inspector sounded abit up his own a*** though.

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Paul S Jr
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Post by Paul S Jr »

BBC Tyne Tees called the incident a 'Foolhardy stunt' that phrase seems very innapropriate especially as foolhardy seems to be quite an overstatement, especially from someone with little or no knowledge of kayaking or whitewater.

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Post by TheKrikkitWars »

Frank McOwski knows best!

In reality local paddlers who are used to that type of paddling know best. So a tiny number of people.
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Post by das bump »

Does anyone know what was the problem with the tees, does it just get loads of big holes etc?


G

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Post by Mark R »

Paul S Jr wrote:BBC Tyne Tees called the incident a 'Foolhardy stunt' that phrase seems very innapropriate especially as foolhardy seems to be quite an overstatement, especially from someone with little or no knowledge of kayaking or whitewater.
Yes, it's very embarrassing to be criticised on national media. But let's not get the 'blind spot' here. I am sure that most of us paddlers would also agree that getting on a flooded river with a group who are all unable to cope with the conditions comes firmly under the category of 'foolhardy stunt'.
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John Kennedy
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Post by John Kennedy »

Just an aside, we've had the coast guard and police called out on us on a few occasions, when we were perfectly fine.
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Post by Wilf »

das bump wrote:Does anyone know what was the problem with the tees, does it just get loads of big holes etc?


G
I imagine that yesterday, with the exception of a couple of holes that are normally playful and become hideous, house eating holes, most of the lower Tees was washed out. When I looked at Wholton Lido, it was just a huge wave train. No drop at all.

Just like any river in flood though, it develops Funny Water, becomes quite pushy, swirly with odd surging eddylines and precious few places to stop and take a time out.
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Post by Rick Foster »

My Wife had the police called on her for swiming in bala lake, even though she was in a ful winter steamer, apparently some torists thought she was killing her selve...

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Post by Fatboy »

Apparently, the last rapid before Winston, was not hard, but the holes were pretty full on, if easy to avoid. My mates were down pretty soon after (I wasn't, stupid work). As I understand it, the paddlers in question were all caught in the same, quite big hole at the bottom.
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Post by peakfreak »

Who knows best...

You do, or you should do.

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Post by jmmoxon »

The problem is we get high water so infrequently that many paddlers aren't up to speed when it arrives, so we are more likely to get into trouble.

Also too many people don't take into account that on most runs the grade increases with the water level - I had my first major swim out of the same rapid many years ago, as I under-estimated the size of the holes and I know it's a long way to the bank in flood. Rapids that are normally straight-forward require paddlers to get out further upstream (to inspect) than you would normally consider necessary, so it is too easy to get washed into the rapid and into trouble.

Be careful out there.

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Post by Mark R »

jmmoxon wrote:we get high water so infrequently
Not sure I concur with this.
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Post by porlhews »

If you don't look innocent then the media will crucify you.

If you don't look amazing then the companies won't sponsor you

If you don't look safe then the emergency services will come to rescue you.

I think you (and those you are responsible for) need to feel comfortable with what you are doing. In addition I think we need to appear to be in control and safe otherwise members of the public and the emergency services will, at some point, risk their own lives to try and help us - that is unacceptable.

Who knows best? Nobody - as nobody will ever have absolute information. You will only go off what you know.

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Post by Canned »

Very easy to say the media are overstating it but surely bitching about the media is denial of the fact that half of the group swam in flood conditions.

With the amount of info available you can't deny that it looks like a misjudgement was made.

There is a big difference in paddling something big volume and something in flood.

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Post by aleeivel »

I'd like to say it is down to the individual to make that decision for themselves, unfortunately from the amount of similar stories we've seen in the last weeks there are a lot of individuals out there who are not able to make that decision for themselves.
To some extent it is part of the learning curve (which is better learnt on a course or in a club environment under the supervision of more experienced people).
The last thing we want is for the big brother, state knows best situation to arise but unfortunately the more often these types of incident happen the further down that route some people will try to take us.
I'm not sure what the best solution is, I dont want red tape getting in the way of my paddling, I also dont want to see unnecessary accidents or emergency service personnel put in danger due to inexperienced people taking risks they were not aware of.
I'm sure lots of you on here will have lots of conflicting ideas on what the best solution is so lets hear them :-)
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Post by TheKrikkitWars »

Let the emergency services have their 15 mins of fame in the media?

Seems a good solution to me.

Edit: And say a big thank you to them of course.
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Post by Ray Latham »

TheKrikkitWars wrote:Let the emergency services have their 15 mins of fame in the media?

Seems a good solution to me.

Edit: And say a big thank you to them of course.
I think you should take into account that when things do go wrong they have to drag the remains out. Not a very nice job and one that they will probably carry for the rest of their lives. Quite a lot to expect people to have to put up with so that we can make risky decisions on paddling a river when we know we will be on or over our limit.

Dont get me wrong I am as bad as anyone else and will take myself onto a river right at the top of and sometimes over my ability. its the way we improve. But when I do this I know I am paddling with a group of paddlers who are competant at that level and will probably be able to get me out if I am in trouble.

Not a whole group that is going to struggle at the same level. I think some comon sense should be applied here.

The emergency services are not after 15 minutes of fame, They just would rather avoid a liftime of unnessessary bad memories.

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Post by TheKrikkitWars »

Ray Latham wrote:
TheKrikkitWars wrote:Let the emergency services have their 15 mins of fame in the media?

Seems a good solution to me.

Edit: And say a big thank you to them of course.
I think you should take into account that when things do go wrong they have to drag the remains out. Not a very nice job and one that they will probably carry for the rest of their lives. Quite a lot to expect people to have to put up with so that we can make risky decisions on paddling a river when we know we will be on or over our limit.

Dont get me wrong I am as bad as anyone else and will take myself onto a river right at the top of and sometimes over my ability. its the way we improve. But when I do this I know I am paddling with a group of paddlers who are competant at that level and will probably be able to get me out if I am in trouble.

Not a whole group that is going to struggle at the same level. I think some comon sense should be applied here.

The emergency services are not after 15 minutes of fame, They just would rather avoid a liftime of unnessessary bad memories.
As far as i can see the problem was that people felt they were not qualified to comment on the responsibility of the situation. Give what they do for us from time to time, I think we should man up and let them say what they feel.

Though I whole heatedly agree that we don't want avoidable deaths or injuries that would but greater burdens both physical and mental on our valuable. emergency services personnel.

Slight side track; I know there is a dedicated vounteer Swift Water Rescue Team in North Wales, would extending this elsewhere be a good idea?
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Post by StoneWeasel »

I think one thing we are missing here is that from time to time we all make errors of judgement I have certainly made a few in my time*, unfortunately there is no way of stopping people making mistakes, it is human nature.

Everyone survived, they will probably be more cautious for a while and in the future may or may not make another error of judgement, nothing anyone does can really change that.

Denzil

*Notably a mate and I running our first bit of grade 4 with siphons and undercuts included just a few weeks after passing my 3* in playboats, we did't realise the river gorged up and got that tricky.
Also taking a group of paddlers on the middle Tavy in far too higher water, underestimating the river and overestimating the skill of the group, luckily most walked out after we broke one person, one boat and lost another boat leaving only those of us that were up to the conditions to continue to the end.

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Post by Bx »

The group of people are understandably very embarrassed by what happened. I have only spoken to one of them so can't comment for all of them. She said they looked at the river, felt they had the skills needed and made the judgement to paddle. They had a fantastic run until they got a beating in the hole (not a great way to end the day).

They misjudged the consequences of a swim that they didn't expect to take, several of the group have run this section at very high levels before. They did not get on thinking they were underskilled and underprepared for the run. It's easy for us to say they should never have been on there and with hindsight they agree, however can we all say that we would never get on a river/have never got on a river where we took an unexpected swim? I know many people are extremely safe but we can never guarantee it will go not wrong.

The police were called because 3 of the group were together having got out with their kit and 3 of the group were missing. They could have spent a long time running round looking for them themselves or they could have called 999 when they did giving the rescuers the best possible head start if the rest of their group were still being washed down stream. Out of the mistakes they made that day I think that calling 999 when they did wasn't a mistake. If they'd run down the bank and found them then no one would ever have heard of this and it would now have been forgotten along with the many epics other paddlers (including those on this site) have had.

Mistakes were made, everyone survived. I would not like to think that I wasn't allowed to go boating when it rained very hard and the rivers were high. I would also like to think that if I did make a mistake other people would be less quick to judge. If I made loads of mistakes and did this every weekend then feel free!

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Post by Ray Latham »

TheKrikkitWars wrote:
Slight side track; I know there is a dedicated vounteer Swift Water Rescue Team in North Wales, would extending this elsewhere be a good idea?
A good idea in principle but I think a difficult one to set up throughout the uk. You would need teams located in a huge amount of sites to be able to respond and cover large area's.

Worth a thought but I think the powers that be would see it as an unnessassary money pit. The emergency services are running on a shoe string in many cases as things stand.

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Post by GETWET »

I got hassled by the police and Fire service once when preparing to get on the Upper Wear, while the rest of the group were doing the shuttle. The river was at a rather good level, ie in Flood. They advised me we would be arrested if we attempted to get on. I managed to convince them we were experienced enough to undertake the trip, and that if they turned us away we could well end up on a harder stretch of water!

They ended up taking my details and left us to it.

Fortunatley we had a good day with no epics!!

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Post by bum_too_big »

TheKrikkitWars wrote:


Slight side track; I know there is a dedicated vounteer Swift Water Rescue Team in North Wales, would extending this elsewhere be a good idea?


A good idea in principle but I think a difficult one to set up throughout the uk. You would need teams located in a huge amount of sites to be able to respond and cover large area's.

Worth a thought but I think the powers that be would see it as an unnessassary money pit. The emergency services are running on a shoe string in many cases as things stand.

A very good Idea,

Teams located in a huge amount of sites = Paddlers such as them that use this web site?

as an unnecessary money pit = Charity It could be run like the R.N.L.I. / Part of the R.N.L.I. with all the recent flooding, an in land R.N.L.I. could be of great importance.

It could most definitely improve our reputation as a community, and I for one would be interested in taking part, though not setting things up. That takes a special type of person.
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Big Henry
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Post by Big Henry »

Just been listening to Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 about the Original Mountain Marathon "rescue" in the Lakes over the weekend, and someone (I think it was the overall organiser) said something that suited this thread:
This is not within the expertise of the police
Sums this thread up I think.

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Post by Voodoo »

Big Henry wrote:Just been listening to Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 about the Original Mountain Marathon "rescue" in the Lakes over the weekend, and someone (I think it was the overall organiser) said something that suited this thread:
This is not within the expertise of the police
Sums this thread up I think.
I was watching the News the other day when the story broke about he Mountain Marathon and I was struck to the amount of afford the interviewers went to to try and get those that where being interview to admit to as they saw it, that it was wrong for the Mountain Marathon to be run however the peps that where being interview where experienced and hardened Mountain Marathon runners and they all took the view that "no" it was safe it was with in the realms of what they train for and as such risks where low, this didn't stop the news from really trying to labor the point that it was dangerous and should not have gone ahead as well as having that "fact"on the scrolling tag line even though I hadn't heard anyone say it

Perhaps a case of why let the facts get in the way of a good story

But I did think at the time that the same thing could and would happen with paddlers when those from outside the sort looks in they just see danger where as those that practice a sport and especially at the top end see the dangers as manageable and as the reason for doing it in the first place

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