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Old 06-11-2010   #21
They call me Jon
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 07
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 65
Id like to add something to this thread. I have been doing swift water rescue for a few years now and all the training/ experience I have/ learned/ experienced was based around small teams of kayakers and rafters. (What I imagine most folks on this site have.) I have found that in these situations folks are very quick to send someone into the water with a line for safety. (either attached to a release buckle or not). Get someone across the river or out to the hot spot.

I have recently started working swift water with a local S&R emergency unit that does things differently. The training they give never puts a person in the water untill its the last resort. The first plan always goes to walking around to a bridge or getting the boat out to ferry across the river. I have also found that with the emergency rescue teams, more folks are around to help so they can do things like put a boat in the river. (it also mean more folks standing around waiting, more time to do everything and normally more confusion.)

Personaly I still have a love for the techniques I first learned and would rather use them, but so be it.

Be safe and practice your skills. I just want to help if I can.

P.S. I see why the guide was arrested but personally dont believe its right.

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Old 06-11-2010   #22
Aspen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 377
Years ago we boated down Slaughterhouse on the Roaring fork, and guided a couple from out of town who did not know the run. We happened to meet them at the put in. They were both very solid boaters, but the woman ended up swimming because of a log between two rocks. Somehow, the fire dept got on scene in about three minutes because of a hiker with a cell phone. I think a volunteer in their own car got the page and showed up quickly. This person in street clothes and no PFD had a rope and a whistle and was shouting for everyone to stay put. The swimmer was on the opposite side from her gear and said "get me out of here". I ferried her across the river in a calm area and she got in her boat. The rescue hero came running down to us saying he was in charge and to wait for law enforcement. We got in our boats and never heard anything more about it.

In 1995 when the rivers were raging, someone in another group swam and a motorist called 911. When we got to the takeout we saw about ten firefighters in full firefighting garb on the bridge with ropes. The man in charge of them was my fourth grade teacher in 1976. I went up to him and asked if we could help. We were dressed and ready to go. He said if we wanted to help we should stay off the river since it was too high.

After these two instances, I have adopted the same view as JCKeck1

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Old 06-11-2010   #23
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Front Range, "Beautiful Colorado"
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Posts: 64
Simply put the rafting company was hired to put lives on the river and get them off with inherent risks excepted. The guide takes a % and assures that the job will be done. An incident occurs and all of a sudden the group that is at risk of being sued etc. is being told not to do anything. They are the trained professionals in these senarios and are the ones the family hired to be so.

I think the guide did right by getting over to her. I also think it was wrong that it took 90 minutes to do this.... Wish I was there to understand more of the specifics..

How you can say you understand why the guide was arrested is beyond me. On the other hand why the dad watched his daughter on the otherside of the river for 90 minutes is also beyond me. Someone should have been on the other side with her for sure. Saftey kayaker or someone but 90 minutes age 13 little girl from texas in snowmelt water and terrified from a class IV swim. Sounds like a recipe for all sorts of issues standing alone on a shore freezing.
" ...this is the hardest sport I've ever tried!!",E. Brown, 2003
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Old 06-11-2010   #24
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 328
I have to agree with Keck that the fire departments and rescue organizations are incompetent when it comes to certain types of rescue situations. I have a little bit of experience with Boulder Emergency Squad, which is probably better than the fire departments when it comes to swiftwater. These organizations take a completely different approach to rescue than kayakers and rafting guides, they generally do not get in the river. They have a bunch of expensive gear and are much better prepared to handle a situation such as a car crashing into a creek with people trapped inside, or an injured kayaker stuck at the bottom of a deep box canyon. These are the kind of situations where complicated rope work is actually needed, which is what they are trained for. *Most* kayakers would not be able to haul an injured person out of a two hundred foot deep vertical slot canyon. The major problem that I see is that these organizations are required to respond to "emergency" situations that are not actually emergency situations, and because of the pre-determined chain of command that they have set up they have to take over the situation, and are always going to err on the side of using too much force rather than too little. From their point of view it would be better to "rescue" someone who does not need to be rescued rather than not respond to the situation and have someone die. Again, a lot of the people in these organizations are trained at complex ropework, but do not have the whitwater experience to be able to tell whether a situation is actually dangerous or not. It is like a first year rafting guide throwing a rope when it is not needed. Yes they know how to use a throwbag but have not yet gained the experience to know when it is not needed. If you don't have much whitwater experience a class three stretch of river can seem like a raging torrent where a full on emergency response is needed. Kayakers that paddle class V on a regular basis look at the situation and realize that there is not much danger involved.

I am not sure what the solution to the problem is, this is the first time I have heard of a rafting guide getting arrested for something like this. Normally the over the top response of rescue personel is just an annoyance that kayakers have to tolerate. These organizations do actually save lives in real rescue situations, they just need better training in swiftwater.
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Old 06-11-2010   #25
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Front Range, "Beautiful Colorado"
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Right on claytonious....
" ...this is the hardest sport I've ever tried!!",E. Brown, 2003
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Old 06-11-2010   #26
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Posts: 39
I figure we got out of the water about 5mins before their raft came down and must have pulled away from the parking area literally seconds before this happened. I remember seeing the first 2 red rafts pulling into the top eddie as we pulled out. The night before it was running @1100 and when we went and it was @900. On both instances I commented to my wife on how small the exit eddies were compared to normal and how I hoped maybe the raft companies would try cramming fewer rafts into them at once.

We had an who old-timer approached us at the park as we were getting suited up to warn us we were crazy (we riverboard, and for us Clear Creek is more dangerous at low water than high). I politely told him we would be fine and we set off and had a dream lunch run......every wave train, surf, etc. was absolutely perfect.

We both had to get back to work so we only half changed and hurriedly left to get back. Honestly, I'm kind of a wreck right now. Maybe if we hadn't been in such a fuckin hurry all this may have never happened. We've had swiftwater rescue training and 1 or 2 extra sets of hands at the right time..........Thank God no one died. I don't know what exactly happened down river but it sounds like a shitshow to me. Someone can easily go into hypothermia shock long before 90mins without FULL body insulation (we wear 7mm wetsuits with gloves, booties, and sometimes hoods).

The only lesson I can gather from this is to pay more attention to looking out for others on the water. I saw a potentially bad situation and did nothing. A few extra minutes of my "precious" time and maybe me and a lot of other people would be sleeping better right now.

******I just wanted to add that the boards we use are made by me and are much, much, much safer than any boogie board or flat rescue board. They are based on a 25 year old French design with a carbon-fiber hull as my humble addition (it's in French).....DreamNev.Org - Hydrospeed (Nage en Eau Vive)
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Old 06-11-2010   #27
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Posts: 331
One thing to consider:

Fire Departments are skilled, well equipped and center around fighting fires and pulling people out of burning buildings. They do this all year long. Rivers are high for about 1 month(?) and society has decided that instead of making a River Rescue department that would sit nearly idle for the remaining 11 months, we're just gonna lump all those river rescues onto the Fire Department because they are viewed by the general public as the "go to" team for saving people.

Don't beat up on the firefighter for responding to a call for help. For example, last night, about a hour after my last post in this thread, my fire pager went off. ----I'm out the door, drive a few blocks to the station, throw on my turn-out gear, jump in a fire truck and we are off to a brush fire call. We find out ENROUTE what is going on. When we get there, things are a little different. What I'm getting at is that fire fighters are told that we are needed right now and little more. We show up ready to go to war with what ever danger there is and are given gear to destroy that danger. But on a river rescue call, it's impossible to destroy the river. Our trucks aren't outfitted with kayaks, rafts and wet suits. Keep that in mind the next time you see a firefighter next to the river in all the wrong gear and clothing.

My 2 cents: ---To get back on subject, I agree with most here that the guide never should have been cuffed. That was BS. Every person in the river is NOT a potential victim. The 11 year old girl? Yes. A guide with thousands(?) of river hours? Hell no. He can read the water, find a safe place to swim across and make it happen to get to her and comfort her faster than anyone else. I hope to see those charges dropped.
"So in two seconds, away we went, a sliding down the river, and it did seem so good to be free again and all by ourselves on the big river and nobody to bother us." -Mark Twain (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)
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Old 06-11-2010   #28
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Originally Posted by GagePLoungin View Post
I figure we got out of the water about 5mins before their raft came down and must have pulled away from the parking area literally seconds before this happened. I remember seeing the first 2 red rafts pulling into the top eddie as we pulled out.
They werent red rafts so it was a different trip that you saw.
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Old 06-11-2010   #29
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Originally Posted by catfishjon View Post
They werent red rafts so it was a different trip that you saw.
Thank you for that.
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Old 06-11-2010   #30
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Lyons, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 84
This brings up an interesting question. We help each other out all of the time getting our gear back, getting across the river, throwing ropes, etc. These are normal situations for us. We got ourselves into it, we'll get ourselves out of it. If someone calls 911 when we really don't need it, are we then required to stop doing our normal thing because an inexperienced volunteer tells us to? And are we going to be on the hook for rescue costs when we didn't call 911 and didn't need it?

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