There are certain certifications that every Rock-N-Water summer staff has to go through before they can guide campers on the water such as CPR and WFA (Wilderness First Aid). Because these certifications are so important to the safety of our campers, Rock-N-Water choose and continues to choose Sierra Rescue to train our staff for these high stress situations.
A little while ago, Sierra Rescue released a great article on their website called the “Myths and Truths about Throw Bagging” and how sometimes adding a throw bag into the situation can make things worse. When put in the situation of trying to rescue someone from the water, it is important to quickly look at the options. If the swimmer is in arms reach, it would be most effective to grab onto them and pull them in. However, if they are out of arms reach, the throw bag becomes an option. Every boat, river guide, and swift water rescue team has a throw bag in their vessel. Quick rational thinking is necessary before using the throw bag device because having rope in the water is a whole other hazard to deal with.
Here are a few highlights of their article:
#1– Most rescuers use the low to high risk model that states: Reach, Throw, Row, Go, Tow, Hello. This model lists “throw” before “row” or “go” as a lesser risk option, however that is not the case. It is much safer for a boat to get to the victim and help them into the boat versus a throw bag because not only does the rescuer have to accurately throw the bag to the victim, they also have to be sure that they can get the victim safely to shore and have the victim be able to hold on to the rope.
#2– A rope is not the safest way to get victims out of the water. The most important thing to remember with this is to not let go of the rope. Rope in water can cause danger because the rope can wrap around someone or become a strainer that a person can get stuck in. Loose rope in water is even worse. Most rescuers have had first-hand experience with someone being entangled and drowning, foot entrapments, or a boat being trapped due to a rope in the water. Not only are the victims in danger, but so are the rescuers because of this added risk. The only time that a throw bag is safe to have is when the rope is completely in the bag and tied up.
#3– When throw bagging, most people are so focused on getting it to the victim that they forget the importance of what happens next. While it is important to get the throw bag to the victim, it is also very important to make sure you, as a rescuer, are stable enough to pull them in and that you can get them safely to shore. Even if you are stable as the rescuer and accurately threw the bag to your victim, you could put them in more danger by having them pendulum to an unsafe area of shore such as leading them into a rapid or strainers.
All in all, throw bagging is a very effective tool when used properly and at the appropriate time. There are many risks involved that need to be considered before adding another hazard to the water.
There is even more information on the article that Sierra Rescue put out on their website that you can check out here: