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Swiftwater Rescue II. Introduction Swiftwater search and rescue operations are manpower intensive. Objects in water have the potential to move great distances.

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Presentation on theme: "Swiftwater Rescue II. Introduction Swiftwater search and rescue operations are manpower intensive. Objects in water have the potential to move great distances."— Presentation transcript:

1 Swiftwater Rescue II

2 Introduction Swiftwater search and rescue operations are manpower intensive. Objects in water have the potential to move great distances and search areas may become quite large in a short period of time.

3 Moving water is most effectively searched by teams appropriately trained in swiftwater rescue that can function in or out of the water. Land-based teams provide additional manpower by filling positions not requiring in-water skills.

4 Trained swiftwater personnel... Although rescuers trained for in-water operations can cover large distances quickly, they are usually limited by number and are often required to function using technical equipment and painstaking search techniques.

5 Swiftwater Rescue II will expand upon the skills learned during SWR I and focus on the resource effectiveness of swiftwater teams working in moving water environments, be it flood operations, canal searches or river rescue. It will also emphasize the importance of training and utilizing shore-based personnel to assist with search, rescue and recovery operations.

6 Lesson 1: Characteristics of Moving Water Powerful Relentless Predictable

7 Site reference River Center River Right River Left Upstream Downstream Current Four river references relate to facing downstream

8 River Center River Right River Left Upstream Downstream Current References remain the same even when the perspective is reversed Site reference

9 Water dynamics two general categories of moving water...  Laminar flow Layers of moving water  Helical flow Circular flow of water along the bank, forcing water to midstream

10 Laminar flow Outside Bend Straight Section Fastest Fast Slow Slowest Fastest Fast Slow Slowest

11 Helical & Laminar flow Laminar Flow Helical Flow

12 Water dynamics  Water is fastest… at the surface and midstream  Water slows down… along banks and bottom  Water is faster… at the outside of bends and slower on the inside of bends  Water slows down and deepens… in front of dams and other obstructions

13 Summary Understanding the dynamics of moving water enables the rescuer to function safely and effectively during rescue and recovery operations.

14 Lesson 2: The Human Body in Water Separating fact from fiction...

15 Body weight in water Drowning victim’s sex & size vs. weight in water* *From Encyclopedia of Underwater Investigations; 1994, by Cpl. Robert G. Teather, RCMP Bodies of adult drowning victims weigh between 7 and 16 pounds underwater

16 In still water, the weight of a body will cause it to settle in a near vertical drop to the bottom Fact...

17 Since current moves faster at the surface and slower along the bottom, a body will drop through the layers of laminar flow as it is transported downstream and deposited on the bottom. In moving water... Faster Slower

18 The distance downstream depends on the velocity of the laminar flow

19 Adult drowning victims submerged in moving water tend to resist lateral movement in currents less than 1.5 mph Fact... A body will be swept downstream in any current Fiction...

20 Surface Velocity Time for float to travel 100 feet Velocity: measured in feet per second Throw a floating object (e.g. stick) in the water and record the time it takes to travel 100 feet

21 When a drowning occurs in an area of white water, the body will probably continue to move with the current until it becomes lodged or the current slows and allows the body to settle Fact...

22 Body type and clothing...  Lighter, less resistant body types will be more easily transported  Amount of body fat and air trapped in clothing will contribute to buoyancy  Depending on body type and clothing, some infants and small children may never sink  Clothing may increase the potential to snag and hold a victim stationary in a strong current  Clothing usually adds little to the weight of the victim under water but may affect buoyancy and drag.

23 Dispelling the “Sack of Potatoes” myth...  Object must have the same shape and physical properties  Must be of same volume and weight  Must have same buoyancy  Must have same drag from clothing  Must be trackable “Throw a sack in the water and it will end up in the same place as the victim.” Fact:

24 The phenomenon of body refloat... Once decomposition begins the process of gas formation in the victim’s body, buoyancy can change drastically

25 Unless the victim is snagged or wedged, gas formation may eventually allow the body to raise to the surface where it could be transported downstream by the faster moving surface current Fact...

26  Time  Temperature  Depth  Victim considerations... Physiology of body refloat

27 Victim considerations  Body type  Diet  Clothing  Trauma (pre and post immersion)

28 Not all bodies will refloat! Under certain conditions, a body may remain snagged, trapped in a strainer, held in a water hydraulic or become covered with silt and stay undetected for years

29 Summary Understanding the physical properties of the human body as it pertains to the water environment allows the rescue team to undertake an accurate scene evaluation.

30 Lesson 3: Safety Considerations The search of moving water is at best difficult and challenging. Such activities present great obstacles for swiftwater rescue teams and often expose searchers to the threat of personal injury or death.

31 Safe and effective search operations near moving water depend on proper...  Preparation  Training  Equipment.

32 Hazards include...  Water hydraulics  Strainers (barb wire, tree limbs, log jams, debris)  Slippery, unsure footing  Topography (access, cliff faces, drop-offs)  Manmade obstructions (dams, bridges, debris)  Cold water

33 Associated risks include...  Drowning  Entrapment  Hypothermia  Blunt trauma  Cuts and lacerations

34 The safety of all personnel must always be the highest priority!

35 Public safety teams that are untrained and ill-equipped to handle water- related emergencies, expose themselves to untold risks. Firefighters, law enforcement officers and members of the search and rescue community can all become victims during search and rescue events.

36 Risk/Benefit Always consider the Risk/Benefit Analysis of every operation!

37  Only personnel appropriately trained in swiftwater rescue should enter the water to recover any object  Have preplan in place for appropriate action prior to object location The role of search teams is to facilitate clue location...

38 Swiftwater rescue technicians may be required to safely retrieve objects from dangerous currents

39 There is safety in numbers  Never search alone; search teams should consist of three or more person/teams  Searchers should have knowledge of self-rescue and victim-rescue techniques  Exercise caution, continually re-evaluate the Risk/Benefit Analysis and be prepared to assist teammates in an emergency  Be properly equipped

40 Shored-based Personal Protective Equipment  PFD with whistle & knife  Environmental protection  Gloves and boots  Throwline bags  Helmet.

41  Thermal protection  PFD with knife & whistle  Helmet  Swiftwater rescue board  Hand & foot protection  Fins/mask/snorkel  Throwline bags Water-based PPE for swiftwater rescue

42 Swiftwater team equipment  Throwline bags  Line gun  Tag line buoy  Multi-chambered, inflatable boat  Rope rescue equipment and hardware  Communication equipment  Additional PFDs & helmets  Other specialized equipment

43 Search equipment includes...  Probe device  Binoculars  Polarized sunglasses  Flagging & permanent marker  Rope and climbing equipment  GPS.

44 Summary There are inherent dangers associated with moving water. Operating in such an environment can prove deadly for victim and rescuer alike. Preparation, proper training and equipment allow rescuers to accurately assess the Risk/Benefit Analysis of every operation.

45 Lesson 4: Scene Evaluation The critical stage of search operations

46 Scene evaluation... Begins with the initial call for assistance but continues throughout the entire operational phase of the search

47 A systematic and objective size-up or assessment of the incident is particularly crucial at the onset of the search Start the process early

48 A good scene evaluation identifies...  Incident type  Location and access  Time of occurrence  Environmental conditions  Resource needs  Witness identification  Ability to control water volume

49 The primary operational objective is to establish a “Last Seen Point”

50 Determining the Last Seen Point (LSP)...  Physical evidence  Witness interviews  Reference objects vs. reference points  Knowledge & experience as SWR scene evaluator

51 Witness interview The witness interview is perhaps the most critical component of a scene evaluation and is essential for determining the LSP

52 Actual LSP Initial LSP Never underestimate the importance of establishing an accurate LSP A nine-year-old boy lost his life in this boulder sieve Location of Body View from river right. View from river left.

53  Control and organize witnesses  Separate and interview individually  Question thoroughly and methodically  Don’t ask leading questions  Go slow, stop & listen  Qualify witnesses by order of importance. Witness interview

54  Physical description  Clothing type and colors  Shoe pattern  Equipment or personal items  Intended plans  Experience level, etc. Establish a subject profile listing

55 “Last Known Activity” In cases involving an unwitnessed or poorly witnessed drowning, the last known activity may provide the only clue to the location of the body

56 And most important Write it down!  Compile all statements, information and documented clues in a centralized collection point  Use this material to develop a scene sketch for future reference

57 Components of scene sketch:  LSP- Last Seen Point  Location of physical evidence  Location of witnesses  Permanent landmarks used to triangulate  Access points (e.g. dock, boat ramp)  Current speed

58 Summary Developing a thorough scene evaluation and determining an accurate Last Seen Point may be the most important tasks you will perform during the initial stage of any search operation.

59 Lesson 5: Establishing Operational Objectives Photo by Lucas Gilman

60 Search planning Is largely driven by information gathered during scene evaluation A successful search operation depends on an accurate assessment of the situation

61 Rescue vs. recovery search operations The choice of tactics may vary during a search, especially in the initial phase The operational mode will help drive the tactical considerations and assist in Risk/Benefit Analysis

62  Determine the LSP  Evaluate the current’s capacity to move objects downstream  Estimate size of search area  Identify resource needs  Identify potential hazards for rescuers  Define/prioritize high probability areas Initial search objectives…

63  Segment search area as needed  Determine effective search methods necessary to thoroughly cover areas  Assign resources according to skill level  Perform ongoing evaluation of process Ongoing search objectives…

64 The search should begin with an investigation of the Last Seen Point always Never assume that the body of a missing victim has floated away until the LSP has been thoroughly searched

65 Review of drowning characteristics...  Bodies tend to resist current less than 1.5 mph  The body will generally drop to the bottom  Current on the surface is greater than the bottom current  Bodies of adult drowning victims generally weigh between 7 and 16 pounds in water

66 Identify all high probability areas and concentrate search first in sections where water slows down or where strainers and other objects may snag victim

67 Environmental conditions may influence the probability of success Remember...

68 High probability areas include  LSP  Strainers  Boulder sieves  Low head dams  Bridge abutments  Hydraulics Eddies Holes  Where water slows down. Shoreline Sand bars River bends

69 Strainers

70 Boulder sieves

71 Low head dams

72 Bridge abutments

73 Flow Dynamics

74 Shorelines

75 Summary Understanding water dynamics, body characteristics in water, safety concerns and resource capabilities allows rescuers to determine areas of high probability and establish search priorities.

76 Lesson 6: Search Tactics

77 Search tactics may vary depending on circumstances of the event  Witnessed incident vs. unwitnessed vs. general missing persons report  Rescue vs. recovery  Risk vs. benefit.

78 Establish an initial containment area based on current speed and time of incident Initial actions in rescue mode...

79 Contain and control...  Assign hasty teams to search from LSP downstream  Post containment teams downstream at bridges and other vantage points  Assign additional teams to high probability areas  Search banks for possible exit points downstream

80 Tactical considerations for every rescue team...  Are site conditions too dangerous to put anyone in the water?  Are there sufficient resources available to cover the search area quickly and effectively?  Is it possible for searchers to effectively cover the area?  Will more manpower allow greater coverage in a shorter period of time?

81 Ongoing concerns...  As additional resources arrive, stagger teams throughout search area  Assign teams based on experience level and search priorities  Establish land-based searchers to assist swiftwater teams with object retrieval  If available, assign dog teams to work LSP

82 A slow, careful scan of the river is necessary. Study any irregularities in color, shade or shape of the surface Study every section from at least two vantage points

83  The ideal probe is a 7-foot, 3/4” aluminum pole  Improvise as needed to meet the situation at hand  Tap and “feel” the bottom with the pole from the downstream side Probe search... Exercise extreme caution when working along the shore!

84 Search shorelines including vegetation along banks.

85 Search sharp bends or curves in the river and areas of natural entanglement or entrapment using a probe pole

86 Line searching may be effective where water is shallow and predictable

87 Whenever possible, post an observer as an overseer and additional safety personnel downstream for the in- water search teams

88 LSP DP 1 DP 2... Current Team 1 Team 3 Team 5 Team 7Team 9 Team 2 Team 4 Team 6 Team 8Team 10 Suggested team assignments Swiftwater teams work down from LSP and concentrate on areas of high probability In-water Teams A B C

89  Hasty search is followed up by a controlled, methodical search of the banks and river hydraulics  Rule out “rest of world”  Identify resource needs  Ongoing scene evaluation  Consider trained SAR dogs. Extended search operations...

90  Can be an effective resource  Train with dog teams in advance of incidents to fully understand their capabilities and limitations Dog teams

91 Under certain conditions, the use of dogs in boats may be a tactic used to thoroughly search an isolated area of river.

92 It may be necessary to establish a transport system to move people and equipment from one side of the river to the other

93 “Don’t just look for a body, search for clues!”  Tracks  Disturbances in vegetation  Articles of clothing  Equipment

94 Unfortunately moving water often appears as a confusion of colors, shades and shapes. When searching from shore the casual observer may not be able to identify a body even when it is not fully covered by water. What to look for...

95 Perceptions & expectations...  The body may blend into the color & textures of the surrounding environment  Flesh tones tend to blend with white water  Skin color may appear very white to luminous

96  Floating debris, strainers and overhanging branches can easily hide or camouflage a body in swiftwater  Conditions often require a slow and methodical search of the area  While it is necessary to have a good clothing and physical description of the victim, be aware that clothing and jewelry are often stripped away in the forces of moving water and the body may be nude

97 A body in moving water may be difficult to see, especially from a distance Near view Far view

98  identify location with flagging, GPS, etc.  Mark it… identify location with flagging, GPS, etc.  with rope if safe to do so  Secure it... with rope if safe to do so  remain with victim and monitor until recovery team arrives  Stay with it... remain with victim and monitor until recovery team arrives Once the body is located

99 If there are suspicious circumstances surrounding the incident, take special precautions so as not to destroy evidence Photograph and record body position, obvious trauma, etc. Bag hands and feet

100  Have a preplan for action in place before the victim is found  Assign a team member or “trained” victim’s advocate to the family  Assign a team member or PIO as representative  Quietly notify team and command staff Considerations for family & media...

101  Whenever possible, have the family escorted from the scene before the victim is removed from the water  Encourage the family to wait until the body is at the morgue or hospital before viewing their loved one  Consider the need for CISD Trauma often associated with moving water fatalities...

102 Gas formation may occur days, weeks or months later and body refloat could move the victim outside the initial containment area. As a result, continual monitoring of the area over an extended period may be necessary. If victim is not located...

103 Course Summary “The ultimate goal of any operation is to search effectively without placing search and rescuer personnel in harm’s way.”


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