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.

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