In all of our environments that we work or relax in, keeping safe is the most important thing, irrespective of whether it relates to paddling or even walking our dog in the park. When we come across an emergency the first thing we need to consider is our very own personal safety - better to only have one casualty than two. It's never an easy decision to make, and it's all to easy to jump in fueled by the spur of the moment, but it's always better to work down the scale of risk to ourselves when executing a rescue. So why not think about SRTRG.

This personal risk scale starts with:

  1. Shout: Before jumping into the river or lake why not attract the swimmers attention via your best shouting voice and get them to start swimming towards you to complete a self rescue. This is your least risk approach.
  2. Reach: If a shout rescue is not achievable, which could be due to many reasons, then why not consider a reach rescue - can you reach the casualty using a paddle, canoe pole, or whatever is to hand such as a branch of a tree?
  3. Throw: If the reach rescue is not achievable, especially in more dynamic river environments, then we may be called upon to throw our throwline in our paddling environment, to the swimmer. Sometimes a good rescue can be achieved even with a shout rescue in most instances by getting the swimmer to swim towards the shore or bank.
  4. Row: If a throw rescue has failed or is unachievable then the situation may require us to paddle out to the casualty in order to effect a rescue. Remember though that in most instances a "shout" rescue can be effected from the boat by coaching the swimmer to the bank from your craft without the need to "piggy back" the casualty on the back of your kayak... This strategy lowers your risk as a rescuer. Should the situation require a more active participation then you will, using your kayak or canoe, assist the swimmer to the bank. This will be covered in future articles so keep an eye out for more of my tips...
  5. Go: So the strategies above have all failed and the only alternative is then to go for the casualty. This is the position of most risk for you as an individual as you're personally entering the water so it would be advisable to have some safety and rescue training behind you.

I hope that the explanation of the above methodology has been useful to you. There will be a few more blogs around safety, covering SAFER and CLAP, coming online soon so pop back for more articles on the subject soon.

Happy paddling and keep safe...