Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

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Poke
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Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by Poke »

There are five of you in the group. One of the group is running the drop in the picture, leaving four of you on safety/cameras. Three are on one side of the river (river right) next to the drop and one on the other (river left) a short way downstream taking photos,

The drop in question consists of about 10ft freefall, onto a rocky slab, into a large pool with no nasty hole. The river is grade 2/3 for at least the next 100m or so.

Image

The boater runs the drop, getting the line they were after on the freefall (down the green tongue in the centre, next to the rock), but there is a loud bang as they land on the slab, and they vanish completely from view.

What do you do?
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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by Voodoo »

Stay calm, dont panic, ok I got it stated :-)


however are we talking the drop closest to us or the one up stream we can see ?
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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by DaveBland »

Okay, I don't mind putting myself out there.
Great idea for a thread too. Way more likely to start a healthy debate than an 'incident' thread.

Let's assume it's the lower drop.

First thing that you'll do is nothing. Wait say 10-15 seconds to see what flushes.
You were saying nothing is visible – so if that's the case:
a) a throw line is not much use
b) it means they are pinned under and in need of serious help.

The camera guy river left moves up the bank and starts to set up a line across the river as above the falls as he can with one of the guys on the right bank.
Meanwhile the other two start a [very careful] dope on a rope. Not nice, it's manky in there.
You'd hope that the dope would at least find something and locate the boat/paddler.

Once secured, the line above, across the drop can be clipped onto and used for safety, support, winching etc.

After that, I'm at a loss – and it's probably too late.

Personal view points to note:
• If running manky drops where your buds will be in serious danger of injury in trying to rescue you – you have to accept that you are on your own really. Safety has to be just that. Safe for the rescuers too.
• Think about the drop and type of rescue needed beforehand. In my opinion, throw line rescues are merely for convenience. If it's serious enough to really need safety, it probably needs a dope on a rope. If this is the case, have it set up and planned in advance.

Fascinated to see what the more educated suggestions are...
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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by Dr Robin »

Great thread.

It's a desperate, desperate situation. I'd get someone on a rope on the rocks river right, fumbling around in the water for a grab-loop, helmet, anything. If that fails he could jump in, but it's dangerous and unlikely to work and by that stage it's probably too late anyway.

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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by Poke »

Voodoo wrote:however are we talking the drop closest to us or the one up stream we can't see ?
Yep, closest drop...
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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by scottdog007 »

Dr Robin wrote:Great thread.

It's a desperate, desperate situation. I'd get someone on a rope on the rocks river right, fumbling around in the water for a grab-loop, helmet, anything. If that fails he could jump in, but it's dangerous and unlikely to work and by that stage it's probably too late anyway.
I agree with this. I can't see what more can be done. If they have disappeared then either they are pinned under the water or there is a recess behind the fall and they have gone into it. If a pin I can only see a 'self rescue' working. If stuck under the fall in a recess then the person will after a while start to get hypothermia. Again I can only see 'self rescue' working.

What ever, someone needs to stay on that rock and be prepared with a throw bag or as live bate for if the person gets flushed out.

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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by clarky999 »

Great thread.

First, wait a few seconds just to see if anything flushes through. Next priority is to get someone on those rocks at the base river right (on a rope) to try and find out what the deal is. Maybe from there they can pull the guy out, maybe not. If not (assuming the paddler is there pinned) I'd get a rope all the way across the river to the guy river left, who I'd want as close to river level as he could safely get (maybe anchored to a tree, maybe just anchoring the rope somehow - either way the rope needs to be secure). I'd be trying to get this rope under the paddlers arms/etc, to try and give him enough support to keep his head out of the water at least. Then, depending on how exactly the situation played out, I'd be thinking about mechanical advantage systems to extract the paddler/boat.

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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by Yew »

I would wait to see if anything flushes, the. Get someone on the rock. (on a rope). And get him prodding around with a paddle to see if it hits anything kayaky. Or if it gets grabbed.

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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by Jim »

The first thing is to establish where the paddler is, which probably means calculating where he/she can have got to. One of you should keep an eye on downstream for a while in case they resurface.

If the paddler is trapped underwater and genuinely out of sight, it is going to be extremely hazardous for someone to try and approach on a belay to look for them - it's a decision that can only be made on the day when you can actually see the power of the water etc. but there will be a danger level at which you have to consider that you are most likely to lose 2 friends if you try and send someone out on a belay - I can't see if the fall is that bad from a photo.

The tag line as Clarky suggests is probably the better option - lucky you thought to put someone on the opposite bank, I can't say that we do very often. It isn't going to be easy to arrange.

Personally, I will make my mind up to portage or walk out, as and when the rescue is complete or abandoned, but it's not high priority for the rescue.

In view of the slab and elevation of it, there doesn't seem to be much point putting a paddler on below to paddle up and search - there is no nasty hole so it could be an option, just seems futile. Extraction will almost certainly need to be updstream against the flow anyway.

So that's the first 5 seconds of thinking dealt with, it then comes down to improvisation, and actually trying one of the above or something else.

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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by Dr Robin »

clarky999 wrote:If not (assuming the paddler is there pinned) I'd get a rope all the way across the river to the guy river left, who I'd want as close to river level as he could safely get (maybe anchored to a tree, maybe just anchoring the rope somehow - either way the rope needs to be secure). I'd be trying to get this rope under the paddlers arms/etc, to try and give him enough support to keep his head out of the water at least.
Jim wrote:The tag line as Clarky suggests is probably the better option - lucky you thought to put someone on the opposite bank, I can't say that we do very often. It isn't going to be easy to arrange.
This is a good idea, but from the looks of the photo I don't think the man on river left will be able to get close enough to the fall.

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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by Poke »

Dr Robin wrote:This is a good idea, but from the looks of the photo I don't think the man on river left will be able to get close enough to the fall.
Assume it is possible for the guy on river left to get up to the bottom of the fall and clamber out onto the base of the fall, but there is nothing to easily fix a line to from this point.
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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by Randy Fandango »

Not much to add to all the above except to say I'd get someone in a boat fairly quickly on the river below the drop as if/when the victim flushes it would make getting to them a whole lot quicker than any other method.
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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by Mr Hoppy »

Get a paddler on above, run the same line and dislodge them by boofing the pinned paddler.

What do I win?

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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by Jim »

Randy Fandango wrote:Not much to add to all the above except to say I'd get someone in a boat fairly quickly on the river below the drop as if/when the victim flushes it would make getting to them a whole lot quicker than any other method.
Giles
Good idea, although I dismissed the boater on the water earlier!

To be honest, a lot of times I will decide to portage a drop like this, and will tend to do it straight away and get back on before or as the first paddler runs the fall because I generally feel that a chase boat is better than a line (circumstances depending), but of course that's not the initial situation Poke described.

Can we phone a dam operator and have the water level dropped within a minute?

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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by box2k2 »

Mr Hoppy wrote:Get a paddler on above, run the same line and dislodge them by boofing the pinned paddler.

What do I win?
A Darwin award?

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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by frazerp »

Many sensible suggestions. I'd add to not despair too quickly. If the paddler is pinned flat and facing forwards they could be generating a sizable air-pocket in that situation. Even though you can't see them they could be simply pinned in their boat by weight of water but otherwise ok for now. Alternatively, if they've somehow backflipped under the fall, they might be simply out of sight but safe(ish). So I'd agree on not panicing, getting as close as possible to the drop and having a good careful look, with several eyes.

I like the boater on water downstream too. Always worth it IMHO just to cover the angles.

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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by banzer »

Can't add to the above, but wezzit? Scotland? Wales? Or does that spoil the point of the thread if we know?
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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by Joe L »

It doesn't look like a nice place to be live baiting unless there's no other option. The easiest way in my experience to get a rope through the curtain is to attach a paddle to the end and javelin it through. In a similar situation this summer this was the only way we could get a rope through and eventually worked. Although downstream cover would be good, you will probably need all the help you can get on the bank, especially if there's nothing to major downstream.

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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by TechnoEngineer »

If there is the possibility of a siphon, the live bait would have to be very brave, no?

Why not test for siphons etc by filling a boat with 50 litres of water, cockpit cover on, and send it on its merry way over the drop?
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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by Tom_Laws »

Get as close as you can - hoof a gert big throw line in where they dissapeared (if they totally disappear and leave no trace we assume they are in narnia) and hope you hit them in the chest not the face.

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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by callum s »

TechnoEngineer wrote:Why not test for siphons etc by filling a boat with 50 litres of water, cockpit cover on, and send it on its merry way over the drop
Are you proposing this is done whilst the kayaker is pinned in the drop or as an inspection technique?

I can see very little merit in either, in the first instance it would probably only serve to further worsen the trapped kayakers situation by bombarding him with a boat, unlikely to set him free.

As an inspection technique it would be very time consuming and costly technique to check every drop you suspected may pin or trap a kayak. Probably resulting in a lot of broken kayaks and creating more epics than it would avoid. I would sooner walk round a drop i suspected might entrap a kayak than throw my kayak of it filled with a bit of water.

Was it a bit like this??


As others have said a very difficult rescue scenario which without the paddler self rescuing is unlikely to be resolved in a time period that would allow the paddler to survive. In the immediate timeframe i would try to keep it as simple as possible, get two people on the rocks river right close to the drop first of all throwing lines in then setting up a sort of paddlehook system with either a paddle or a branch (hard to get an idea of scale in the picture) and poke about in the fall to first try and locate the boat, then maybe lever it out, clip it or allow the paddler to grab the rope/paddle/branch. If this fails as a last resort set up a live bait if anyone is willing to jump in. Extremely hazardous but the risk potentially worth it in order to save a friends life. Setting up a line across the river trying to get it under the paddlers arms is a good idea but may be impractical in this particular setting, hard to tell from the picture. Keep someone in a boat on the water below the drop the entire time in case the paddler washes out injured or unconscious. If this doesnt work remember you are on a Scottish spate burn, it will probably drop of within a few minutes!!

Banzer I believe this is the Douglas in Scotland after hearing the story last weekend...

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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by Andy H »

I feel i have to post my 2 pence worth on this as this senario has actually happened to me. My friend did a 4 metre drop and didnt resurface to my horror, Luckily he had found a small air pocket behind the waterfall and i was able to extract him with a weighted tag line.

So in your senario you have said you heard a loud bang and the paddle hasnt resurfaced, plus there are 4 more paddles around to rescue,

Prioroty is number one you!!! If you are going to fish around in the base of the fall then you need to be on a line. I would be tempted to go with this first as if you heard a bang then it could suggest the drop is shallow. Best approach looks like from river right. If you cant get in from the side then maybe a V line on you and approach from down stream.

If you think your life is in danger by entering the water then dont do it.

Second is using some kind of rope technique as Clarky said a tag line under the arms may extract the paddler but this would be difficult if you cant see your Paddler, however by weighting the line in the middle (rocks in a throwbag or rucksack etc) and dragging the line up the riverbed from downstream towards the fall, hopfully its going to snag your paddler. The higher the two people on the ends of the line on the banks the better as this means you can then lift the line if you snag him.

You could also use the same technique with a cinch line, 2 people dropping in a weighted line into the trough of the drop and the other 2 dragging up from downstream

I also can see where techno engineer was coming from with putting another boat into the drop which is a technique for getting swimmers out of a deep recirculating hole human instinct in such a situation is to grab hold of whatever is available and pulling out both swimmer and boat. but for this senario i think it wouldnt be appropriate and you would never throw a boat in from the top you allways float it in from the bottom on a tight line.

What you have to remember is if the pinned paddler is fully underwater and hasnt found a airpocket then they only have 20-40 seconds max after that you are no longer trying to rescue a live body.

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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by Tea Boy Tom »

Poke wrote:
What do you do?
Think 'What would Max do?'

You're going to want some form of downstream cover that will be capable of dealing with your mate whatever state they may be in, should they reappear. I think Joe and Tom have suggested the most straightforward and effective tactics with the paddle/heavy object javelin through the curtain approach. Looking at the picture, I don't reckon that sending someone in on a line will be a viable option.

At what point do people change their approach from one of rescue to one of recovery?

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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by TechnoEngineer »

callum s wrote:
TechnoEngineer wrote:Why not test for siphons etc by filling a boat with 50 litres of water, cockpit cover on, and send it on its merry way over the drop
Are you proposing this is done whilst the kayaker is pinned in the drop or as an inspection technique?
Inspection; you really wouldn't want to throw 70kg of boat+water onto someone who's pinned. The point being that if your going to all that trouble to set up safety in the first place, you might as well check for siphons while your at it if it looks dodgy enough.
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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by DaveBland »

In this case, I disagree with having someone on the water downstream to pick up the pieces.

Firstly, by the time someone has got back in their boat, it would be too late.
Secondly, I think you'd need all the people you can get on-hand to extract the victim.
Thirdly, below is only G2-3 and fishing someone out of that is the least of your worries.

Generally, someone on the water is a good idea though. Although in small groups [3-4] I'm a fan of having a boat set up ready to jump into and seal launch rather than 'waste' a body needed on the bank.
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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by ion »

DaveBland wrote:In this case, I disagree with having someone on the water downstream to pick up the pieces.

Firstly, by the time someone has got back in their boat, it would be too late.
Secondly, I think you'd need all the people you can get on-hand to extract the victim.
Thirdly, below is only G2-3 and fishing someone out of that is the least of your worries.

Generally, someone on the water is a good idea though. Although in small groups [3-4] I'm a fan of having a boat set up ready to jump into and seal launch rather than 'waste' a body needed on the bank.
Well I'm not sure I'm going to agree with you on that Dave, though I do agree that if there's a man power shortage on the bank then that's the obvious priority. I can think of one incident involving a very famous paddler in Ecuador where he was pinned in his boat in an upright orientation but completely invisible from rescuers...however he had a brim on his helmet that formed an airpocket in front of his face and was able to survive a substantial time in the water. He was able to raise his arm above water to make contact with rescuers who eventually set up a bank to bank tag line that the victim clipped with his own cows tail. The moral being when you can't see someone for 2 minutes don't assume they're gone. Here's another case of the disappearing paddler from this summer, this time Thomas ran a drop backwards as the first boater and was sucked into a cave where no one could see him..it took several minutes for rescuers to find a vantage and technique where they could get a lucky bag through the curtain.
I have seen Pokes scenario play out pretty much as described except in a much larger and wider river at high flow. In that case the paddler was luckily pinned to his back deck by the flow rather than hunched forward and able to self extricate with some difficulty. Boat (Eskimo) appeared several hours later split stern to bow. In that case I can think of nothing we could have done to assist.

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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by Mark R »

I don't know if this has any bearing...

http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/inde ... Itemid=136
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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by DaveBland »

I was thinking: three rescuers – if one is on the water, that leaves any live baiter with just one puller to hold potentially two people. And depending on who's on the water, either you lose your both-bank advantage or the live baiter has to go with the rope attached to the far side which further complicates it.

I'm not saying I'm right – everyone does what they think is right at the time. My main call in this instance was that it was flat[ish] downstream.

Either way this thread is fecking brilliant and please can we keep it going with some more scenarios.

Oh and completely separately on live baiting, again a personal view...
Agree a timescale beforehand that no matter what, after that, you pull the bait back again. 30 seconds is good. Signalling is useless. Live baiting is super dangerous and if you know you have 30, everyone can work to that.
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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by davebrads »

Andy H wrote:What you have to remember is if the pinned paddler is fully underwater and hasnt found a airpocket then they only have 20-40 seconds max after that you are no longer trying to rescue a live body.
If you get someone out within 2 minutes there is a fair chance they will still be conscious, 5 minutes or so and CPR will probably work, and they probably won't have suffered permanent brain damage. After that it is getting a bit futile, but as a rescuer you aren't going to know that they can't breathe (see Mark's link) so rescue attempts must proceed for considerably longer than that.
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Re: Hypothetical Rescue Scenario

Post by clarky999 »

davebrads wrote:
Andy H wrote:What you have to remember is if the pinned paddler is fully underwater and hasnt found a airpocket then they only have 20-40 seconds max after that you are no longer trying to rescue a live body.
5 minutes or so and CPR will probably work
I don't think the chances of CPR working are ever considered probable - especially without a defib.

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