So here’s the scenario. You’re out paddling your kayak along with some of your buddies and one of your paddling buddies ends up unconscious floating face down in the water. And this happens under the Golden Gate Bridge in some lumpy water. What do you do?
This is one of the scenarios we acted out with members of our kayaking club, Bay Area Sea Kayakers (BASK) recently. We gathered in the morning at Horseshoe Bay, on the North side of the Golden Gate Bridge. We broke into two groups, those that wanted to practice basic rescue skills and those that wanted something more challenging including incident management.
I joined the more advanced group. We launched our boats and headed out to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was just off of Lime Point where we had our first execution of a T-rescue. With practice this is an efficient and quick way to get someone back in a boat. After the mornings practice sessions, we landed at Kirby Cove for lunch. As you can see it was a gorgeous day to be on the water.
After lunch we were back on the water. This is where we had a more complicated scenario. Just what do you do when you have an unconscious kayaker in the water? Someone needs to go in the water to assist the person, get them face up, and perhaps provide rescue breathing. Someone else needs to get on the radio to call for help. In our practice, we did get the person back in the kayak and upright, with some cooperation from our “unconscious” victim. The kayak was now full of water and unstable, so two kayakers came alongside to stabilize the boat and the paddler. Two other kayakers used an inline two to get the swamped boat and victim to safety. We were now surfing breaking waves with white caps. I can’t say our “victim” would have survived if this was a real situation, but we all agreed that practicing this scenario gave us a better understanding of what we would do in a real situation. And then messing about in boats with some good friends and well accomplished paddlers is always fun.