HAMPTONEERS TRAIN WITH THE ‘BLUE LIGHT’ RESCUE SERVICES
(and so make paddling a bit safer for all local paddlers)
Dan shows how to rescue a canoe
One Monday evening in June, eight excellent Hamptoneers paddled into Shepperton Marina, right round to the back where White Water The Canoe Centre has its base. There they met two lifeboats from Surrey Fire & Rescue, who are based in Walton.
Two days later, the same excellent paddlers drove into a modern property development just downstream of Teddington Lock, where Teddington RNLI station is based.
On both evenings, the agenda was the same: to provide the rescuers with experience and hints on how to rescue paddlers, kayaks and canoes; and to provide the paddlers with a greater understanding of how rescuers are likely to approach rescuing a paddler or their boat. Our written plan is HERE We’d done much the same with the RNLI back in November.
Surrey Fire & Rescue came with two different boats and a total of seven crew. The RNLI had two identical boats, 13 crew and 3 helms, with a wide range of experience. And along with the RNLI came two volunteers from the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme, trying to capture in writing what was being taught, so that the RNLI would have a permanent record of the training.
To start each evening, after introductions, Derek explained the features of our boats. We had deliberately brought a wide range of club boats: a canoe, a Cirrus K1, the Rorqual K2, a Scorpio sea kayak and the Ethos whitewater kayak. He showed them the flotation, deck lines, toggles – handily available on some boats and not others. And the first lesson in How To Empty a K1 was delivered.
Peter Loy then convincingly proved we’re not totally helpless: he demonstrated rolling a sea kayak; a deep water rescue, sea kayak to sea kayak; and being rescued using the ‘Hand of God’ rescue.
On to the water: Maxine, Dan, Andy and Jenny kept one boatload of rescuers busy with boats to empty. And they were busy themselves, bringing out each boat, flooding it, providing hints on how to approach the problem, then taking the boat, wet but empty, back to the bank.
Meanwhile the other boatload of rescuers was occupied with recuing paddlers, who were feigning being ill or injured while sat in their boats. Peter in a white water boat turned out to be easy to rescue: they just grabbed the front handle and pulled him straight on to the lifeboat! Paul was rescued from a sea kayak with a keyhole cockpit, as well as intentionally falling into the water and needing to be pulled out.
Last of all, the evening’s tough guy: Michele, sitting in her sea kayak with its tiny ‘ocean’ cockpit, capsized and waited patiently upside down while the rescuers brought her back to the surface so she could resume breathing. Then they extricated her onto the lifeboat.
The rescuers were very pleased with the evenings. Surrey Fire & Rescue said “The watch were all very complimentary about the event itself and the members of the club. Please thank them all on our behalf for giving up their time and expertise so readily.”
RNLI said “Thanks so much yet again to you and your marvellous club-mates for a brilliant session last night. Everyone enjoyed it and found it very informative and useful, especially our newer crew, many of whom were there.” The RNLI issued a press release
Meanwhile I am writing an article for The Paddler ezine, hoping that other canoe clubs might read it and develop a habit of training with their local rescue services. That would help make paddling a little bit safer. And I am being asked “When shall we do it again?”
Andrew Wallace – June 2018
Hamptoneers taking part : Derek Heath, Michele Springall, Peter Loy, Paul Scott, Maxine Nelson, Dan Bownds, Jenny John Chuan and Andy Garbett