By Robert Avsec
The 2014 winter season has been extremely harsh across the U.S. — with all-time records being set for low temperatures, snowfall and ice on waterways. For example, more than 90 percent of the Great Lakes were frozen, the most since 1963, according to NOAA.
Massive accumulation of snow and ice creates a great potential for serious spring flooding across large portions of the U.S. As a result, fire and EMS departments must assess their abilities to respond to swift-water emergencies and that includes their equipment.
Here is a small sample of products that can enhance a department’s abilities to throw, row or go in a water-rescue emergency.
International Rescue Solutions’ ResQmax Swiftwater rescue kit uses a sling projectile that inflates on contact with the water to become a flotation collar for the subject or, at minimum, an easy-to-hold floating ring. The 300-foot (91-m) 8-mm Polyspectra line floats and has a tensile strength of 2,200 pounds (9.8 kN).
The average launch distance with the sling projectile is 200 feet (61 m). The rescue kit comes with a launcher with folding stock; a sling projectile with two spare molded sling burst capsules; 300 feet (91 m) x 8 mm Polyspectra line; a spares kit; a Streamline Filler Hose Assembly; a CORDURA Kit carry bag; streamline nozzle protectors (pack of five); CO2 cartridges; and H20 soluble bobbins (pack of five).
The RNR Deluxe water-rescue throw bag comes with 75 feet (22.8 m) of 3/8-inch (10-mm) Sterling Ultraline rescue rope that has a tensile strength of, 5,261 pounds per foot (23.4 kN). The bag has a tough nylon bottom, reflective trim and a quick release strap for hanging.
An optional Wild Water Snag Plate lets users snag and pull in a rope with a standard throw bag. Once installed in the bag, it does not interfere with normal throw bag use, according to the company.
The Oceanid Rapid Deployment Craft (RDC) is an inflatable boat specifically designed and built to be easy to store, deploy and use. When deflated, the RDC stores in a 2-foot cube and weighs 50 pounds; it can be stored aboard an emergency vehicle or larger boat. One person can easily carry the cube to the launch site and inflate it in seconds
Both ends of the RDC are upturned so that the rescuer can maneuver the boat’s open end over the victim while the victim’s head remains above water at all times. This feature also enables a rescuer to reach forward into a pour-over and pull the victim into the boat through the pour-over while still safely in the boat.
The RDC can be towed by a personal water craft, thus increasing its operating range on the water.
The Extrasport Universal Rescuer from NRS Rescue is a Type V personal floatation device, which is the only PFD type approved by the U.S. Coast Guard for rescue use. The Extrasport PFD provides 22 pounds of flotation, a quick-release buckle and rescuer’s harness, webbing-reinforced shoulders, and a four-buckle front closure and 11 adjustment points.
Constructed using 500 Denier Cordura, the Extrasport has an outer shell to provide abrasion resistance, two heavy-duty zip pockets with internal D-rings and lash tabs to keep rescue accessories easily accessible.
The floatation material is environmentally friendly PVC-free Gaia foam designed to conform to individual body shapes for a more effective fit. Front and back high-visibility reflective tape helps to keep rescuers visible in all conditions.
The personal swift water technician kit from Rescue Response Gear outfits an individual emergency responder with the basic equipment for water-rescue emergencies. The package includes the following 12 components:
- Havoc Livery helmet
- Rapid rescuer PFD
- Extreme SAR dry suit
- Work boots
- Paddlers rescue gloves
- WaveLite Union Suit Polartec
- Co-pilot knife
- 53-inch tow tether
- ACR Firefly plus strobe light
- River rescue duffel bag
- Fox 40 safety whistle
- Universal swim fins
Now is a good time to evaluate swift water equipment needs, before the coming spring thaw unleashes snow and ice into creeks, streams and rivers.