home > community > Blog > What’s in Your Rescue Toolbox?

What’s in Your Rescue Toolbox?

Apr 10, 2013

By Todd Richendahler

During my early whitewater boating development years, I never truly understood why it was necessary for me to learn certain river rescue techniques.  Why do I need to know so many different knots, and in what situation do I use this anchor, or that anchor?  Over the years as I evolved through my continued education of river rescue, and through real whitewater situations, I finally realized that these techniques weren’t just thrown into a river rescue clinic to fill in time.  Each and every technique is a tool, and like any tool, they serve a specific purpose in a whitewater rescue.  While doing carpentry work I might not always have a need for my jigsaw, finish nail gun, or circular saw, but I’m sure glad I have this equipment in my toolbox.  

I think why I didn’t understand this concept in rescue situations, was because there are no black and white guidelines of the time and place to utilize these techniques.  Our various rescue tools can be used in a variety of combinations in many different scenarios.  Some of the most amazing and successful rescues I have ever witnessed on the river employed a creative approach.  I have come to realize that there are no defined parameters when using our rescue tools, and sometimes we need to be able to think outside the box in order to find the right solution to a complicated problem.  I’m not suggesting that your teams plan needs to be complicated in order to be successful.  When it comes to river rescue, I’m a firm believer in following the mantra, “Keep It Simple Stupid” (KISS).  I would rather physically get my hands on a victim than set up a complicated rope system, or use a 1:1 ratio direct rope pull at the right vector angle than setting up a Z-drag.  Not only do I apply this ideology to my river rescue approach, but also to the rescue equipment that I use on the river.  I definitely went through a phase of using equipment that was supposed to be the latest in river rescue technology, but in the end I found the equipment to be too complicated, and unless a person is capable of using the equipment on a frequent basis, you risk the possibility of failure in the heat of the moment.  

Like any carpenter, or your average American male, you can never have to many tools.  It takes regular practice in order to keep our tools sharp and ready for instant action.  Blow the winter dust off your equipment, and like a good Boy Scout practice your knots, anchors, or set-up a Z-drag to pull a vehicle out of a snowdrift.  Don’t take the butterfly knot for granted, or the frictionless anchor, there might come a day when you’ll be relieved that these tools are part of your river rescue arsenal.  

Tags: Kayak, River, Saftey
Category: Training

Add Pingback