Category Archives: Swimming

Swimmer Rescue

Navy Search and Rescue Training

Photo by TSgt Chris Hibben

Rescue Techniques Refresher

THIS video, produced by Lifeguards Without Borders is a good introduction to lifeguard rescue techniques.

As a disclaimer and caution, the video was produced for use by lifesaving professionals. Rescuing a drowning person in the ocean is extremely risky. In the event of a drowning emergency, summon a lifeguard, call 911, throw something that floats to the drowning victim, or attempt to reach them with a long pole or stick as a last resort, in that order. Never compromise your own safety to attempt to save someone else. Lifeguards receive extensive training and have specialized equipment to deal with drowning emergencies.


Information contained on this website is for general information and educational purposes only. Please refer to our Disclaimer and Terms and Conditions before attempting any technique described herein.

Tides, Currents, and Surf

Photo by PH1 Henry Newman

Photo by PH1 Henry Newman

10/09/14
To Do Today:

  • PT – Cardio – 1hr Swim // Strength – Back and Shoulders group.
  • Review: The American Practical Navigator, Chapter 9, Tides.
  • Review the NOAA Rip Current Safety Website Here.
  • Review Waves and Tides by Prof. M. Natarajan, Er. K. Mohan and Prof. T. Balasubramanian

Be prepared to face water obstacles in saltwater, freshwater, and brackish water (where freshwater and saltwater meet) when making landfall. These water environments differ considerably from open water and pose distinct problems for swimmers and tactical units. Saltwater obstacles include tides, surfs, and currents. Brackish water obstacles include back bays. Freshwater obstacles include rivers and canals (to be covered tomorrow).


Tides

Tides are periodic changes in the surface levels of oceans, bays, gulfs, inlets, and rivers. The Moon’s and Sun’s gravitational pulls cause tides. Depending on the situation, tides can either help or hinder in your endeavor to conduct amphibious or riverine operations. Tides can provide sufficient depths to allow for the passage of landing craft or boats over reefs, trees, and other underwater obstructions. On the other hand, tides can render a river fording site unusable to tactical vehicles. Direction, level of change, and amount of change determine tidal nomenclature. Tides that show change in direction are flood tides and ebb tides. Rising tides are known as flood tides. Falling tides are known as ebb tides. Tides that show extreme levels of change are high tides and low tides. High tide is the period when water is at its greatest depth. Low tide is the period when water is at its most shallow depth.

Tides that show the least and most amount of change are neap tides and spring tides, respectively. Neap tides have the least amount of change in water levels between high and low tide. Neap tides occur at the half moon, when the Sun and the Moon are aligned at a 90-degree angle with the Earth. In this position, the Sun’s and Moon’s gravitational pulls offset each other. Spring tides have the highest floods and lowest ebbs. Spring tides occur at or shortly after the new moon or full moon when the Sun, Moon, and Earth are approximately in line. In this position, the Sun’s and Moon’s gravitational pulls are combined.


Offshore Currents

An offshore current occurs outside the surf zone. Typically, it occurs at bay entrances, in island channels, and between islands and the mainland. An offshore current flows parallel to or away from shore. If the offshore current is created by tides, its current strength and direction vary at different times of the day. If caught in an offshore current, you may be carried in a direction you do not want to go. DO NOT try to swim directly to safety. If the current is moving directly away from the shore, relax and wait until the current dies out or turns toward land. Once the current subsides, use any survival stroke to swim toward shore. If the current is moving parallel to shore, use any stroke to move at an angle across the current and toward shore.

Rip Currents

A rip current occurs when waves pile water against the shore faster than the water can drain. The water flows rapidly along the beach until it is deflected seaward by a bottom obstruction. Then the rip current flows through the surf zone and into open water at a speed of up to 2 knots. This action can cut deep trenches in the sand. A rip current dies out once it reaches open water (usually within a few hundred yards of the shore). A rip current can pull you out to the open sea. If caught in a rip current, DO NOT try to swim against the current. A rip current moves faster than most people swim, and it is impossible to swim to shore once caught in it. Relax and stay afloat until the current runs out. Once the current subsides, use a survival stroke to move parallel to the shore until you are out of the current, then begin swimming toward shore.

Littoral Currents

A littoral current occurs when a wave breaks against a beach at an angle. This current flows parallel to the shoreline and does not pose a great threat. If caught in a littoral current, use the combat travel stroke to swim across it at an oblique angle.


Surf

Waves break upon entering shallow water and create surf. The offshore area where waves break is the surf zone, which can present many hazards. Breaking waves often trap air bubbles and create a foamy appearance. Bubbles lower the water’s density and decrease buoyancy. Move through foamy surf as quickly as possible. The type of wave determines your survival technique. Wave action moves you toward shore. Lie on your back or side with your head pointing in the direction of the beach and your feet pointing into the waves.

As one wave approaches the beach, another drains away; relax and do not swim against the draining water. When a new wave is within about 3 yards, start swimming toward shore. Continue to swim until the wave lifts you and moves you toward the beach. Once the wave loses forward momentum, relax and repeat the cycle. If nearing rocks, turn your body and approach feet first to reduce the chance of striking your head and arms.

Plunging Waves

A plunging wave is a breaker whose crest curls forward and falls ahead of its base. Because of its power and underwater turbulence, a plunging wave poses the greatest surf threat. If caught in a plunging wave, you can be pulled underwater and pitched about violently. This can cause you to panic, which can increase your chance of drowning. Perform the following steps to escape a plunging wave:

  • Tuck into a ball with your head against your knees and your forearms locked around your legs, just below the knees.

Surfposition

  • Relax in this position until the turbulence subsides and you float to the surface. This can take 30 seconds or more.
  • Swim toward shore.
  • If threatened by another plunging wave, dive underwater into the wave.

Spilling Waves

A spilling wave does not break. Instead, its crest slides forward without curling. A spilling wave creates less turbulence and poses less of a threat than a plunging wave. If caught in a spilling wave, relax and let the wave carry you to shore.

Surging Waves

A surging wave occurs on a beach with a steep underwater gradient. It never really breaks, but the crest rises while the base slides up the beach with great force and speed. Once the wave reaches its highest point on the beach, it rushes back as quickly as it surged forward. If you are standing on the bottom when a surging wave advances or retreats, the wave can knock you off your feet and pull you into the surf zone. Do not try to stand or walk on the bottom. Swim toward the beach as soon as possible.


Back Bays

Once on the beach, you often face one or more rows of low hills called dunes. Behind the dunes, you may encounter a low-lying stretch of ground thickly covered with scrub trees and bushes. This area gives way to wetlands known as back bays. Back bays consist of muddy islands that are almost submerged during flood tides and separated by channels of brackish water of varying depths. Channel bottoms usually contain soft mud. Back bays pose major obstacles to vehicular traffic. You can cross back bays, but only with great effort. If crossing back bays by foot, consult detailed navigation charts and use the following guidelines to plan your route:

  • Avoid water less than waist deep; walking in shallow water or soft mud is extremely tiring.
  • Avoid back bay islands; these low-lying islands are usually too muddy to support foot traffic.
  • Seek out deep water; floating with a pack is less tiring than walking through shallow water or soft mud.
  • Seek out sand, shell, gravel, or stone bottoms; these firmer bottoms generally ease travel and help conserve energy.

 

Information contained on this website is for general information and educational purposes only. Please refer to our Disclaimer and Terms and Conditions before attempting any technique described herein.

Basic Water Rescues

CJTF-HOA

US Navy photo

10/02/14
To Do Today:

  • PT – 4 sets of 400m run/50 squats/40 walking lunges/50m sprint/50m bear crawl/3 min rest.
  • Practice the rescues and swimming methods described below in a pool or open water until mastered.

Water Rescues

A drowning victim can panic and react with unexpected violence and can seize and inadvertently drown a rescuer. Therefore a water rescue should be executed from a distance if possible. Reaching, wading, or throwing methods are best. If a victim is too far away to use these methods, a swimming rescue may be necessary. Remove all combat gear, when possible, before entering the water. Swim within 2 to 6 yards of the victim to maintain a margin of safety, this allows you to reassess the situation and reassure the victim.

If the victim is unconscious, use the wrist tow method or cross-chest carry method to pull the person to safety. If the victim is struggling, use a rear approach and then execute either a single armpit level off or a double armpit level off before towing the victim to safety. If the victim does begin to overpower you, there are techniques that allow you to defend yourself without having to abandon the rescue. These techniques include the block, the wrist-grip escape, the front head-hold escape, and the rear head-hold escape. These techniques allow you to separate yourself from the victim, reassess the situation, and then attempt the rescue again. NOTE: illustrations show the rescuer without a helmet.

Reaching Rescue Techniques

General rules include: reach from a safe position at the water’s edge if possible, talk constantly to calm the victim, retain partial contact with land or some solid support structure (e.g., pier, bridge), if the victim is close but still beyond reach, extend an object (e.g., stick, pack, etc.) that the victim can grasp.

Reach From a Deckreach

  • Reach from a deck rescue can be executed by either a swimmer or a nonswimmer, and it can be used on an active or a passive victim.
  • Be sure to reassure the victim during the rescue.
  • To  execute reach from a deck— Lie prone on the deck with your body firmly anchored.
  • To anchor your body, lie flat, spread legs apart, and extend one arm behind you with your palm down and on the deck.
  • Keep as much of your weight on the deck as possible and extend your free hand to the victim.
  • Grasp the victim’s wrist from above, your thumb and index finger are facing you.
  • The victim should never be allowed to grab you and put your life at risk. Therefore, never reach across the victim to grab his wrist, always grab the wrist that is the closest to you.
  • Keep your arm straight and locked out and pull the victim to the side of the deck.
  • The victim should never be allowed to grab you and put your life at risk. Never pull the victim into you, always pull the victim into the side.

Arm Extension

  • An arm extension rescue can be used if you cannot reach the victim using the reach from a deck rescue technique and you must enter the water.
  • An arm extension rescue technique is used for a victim who is either active or passive.
  • Once you determine that a reach from a deck rescue technique is not viable reassure the victim and quickly ease into the water while holding onto the deck with one hand.
  • Grasp the victim’s wrist from above, your thumb and index finger are facing you.
  • The victim should never be allowed to grab you and put your life at risk. Therefore, never reach across the victim to grab his wrist, always grab the wrist that is the closest to you.
  • Keep your arm straight and locked out and pull the victim to your side. The victim should never be allowed to grab you and put your life at risk. Therefore, never pull the victim into you, always pull the victim into the side.

Leg Extension

  • If the victim is beyond the reach of your arm, ensure that you have a firm grip on the deck, extend a leg to the victim and allow him to grab it, slowly bring the victim in closer until you can grab the victim’s wrist that is holding onto your leg.
  • Once you have a firm grasp on the victim’s wrist, use the steps in the arm extension to pull the victim to safety.
  • The leg extension rescue can only be used to rescue an active victim because the victim must be able to grab the rescuer’s leg.

Wading Assistwade

  • Do not wade into water that is deeper than your chest.
  • Talk constantly to calm the victim.
  • If possible, do not touch the victim directly.
  • Extend an object (e.g., stick; pack; rifle with magazine removed, chamber empty, and muzzle pointing toward victim) that the victim can grasp.
  • Once the victim grasps the object, pull the victim slowly to safety.

Throw

  • If the victim is not within reach, use an expedient line to throw a lifesaving device to the victim.
  • A lifesaving device can be any weighted item that floats (e.g., a canteen that is one fourth full of water).
  • The lifesaving device must be secured to the end of the rope so that the rope will feed out from its coil when tossed.
  • Talk constantly to calm the victim.
  • Once the victim grasps the line or the lifesaving device, pull the victim toward you at a steady pace that keeps the victim’s head above the water’s surface. DO NOT pull so strongly that you break the victim’s grip on the line.
  • To prepare and use an expedient line and lifesaving device— Tie a bowline at one end of the rope.
  • Unfasten the lid of a canteen. Place the bowline around the neck of the canteen. Refasten the lid so the canteen hangs from the bowline loop.
  • Place one end of the rope under the ball of your forward foot to secure it, either tie a knot at the end of the rope or tie an object at the end of the rope to create a block.

coil rope

  • Stand with your weight on the end of the rope. DO NOT tie the rope around your ankle.
  • Coil 20 to 30 yards of the rope, and hold it in a nonthrowing hand.
  • Place the canteen in your throwing hand. Use an underhand throw to pitch the canteen and rope a short distance over the victim’s head.

throw

  • Keep your nonthrowing hand open so the coil can unfold freely.
  • The rope should trail across the victim’s outstretched arms.
  • Retrieve the rope if the throw is inaccurate or the victim fails to grasp it. Recoil the rope as it is  retrieved. Divide the coil and throw again.

Information contained on this website is for general information and educational purposes only. Please refer to our Disclaimer and Terms and Conditions before attempting any technique described herein.