After the first WATER Club float trip I think maybe I made a mistake in joining the board and promoting this club. I am walking away because I feel the attention to safety is not at the level I would expect from a white water club. I tried to resolve this with the president of the club but he didn’t feel it was a problem. I’m not trying to air dirty laundry or talk trash on the president or the club. I was promoting this club and talking people into joining so I feel I should let it be known why I’m not going to be part of this club anymore.
This is the email I sent to the president of the club and while he didn’t disagree with anything on the list he didn’t seem to think it was as big of a priority as I did. I post this because maybe I’m out of line and I wonder what you all think.
Being a member of this board has its perks for someone that owns a business like mine but it also has its pitfalls. People come to my business to learn how to participate in what is considered a dangerous sport and they put a lot of trust in us that we will give them good information and have their safety in mind every step of the way. If someone comes to a WATER Club event while I’m sitting on the board and doesn’t feel safe it reflects on us as a business. Not to mention, if I recommend that person come out to that event. Either professionally or personally I want no part in anything that makes me or anyone else feel unsafe or left behind. I’m not trying to imply that I have more at stake than anyone else; I’m just not willing to stand up and be counted with people that think this is unimportant. So if this is not a priority for the other members of the club I wish you good luck, but I’m out.
As far as I’m concerned this is the absolute bare minimum of safety precautions and they should not only be accepted but made a priority by all (especially the upper level) members of the club.
· The safety of every member on the trip is the responsibility of every member on the trip.
· Everyone stays together
· Regular regrouping with discussions about how everyone is doing and how they feel
· Leaders are the example not the exception
· Never make anyone feel like their concern is not legitimate
· No night runs unless it is scheduled and billed as a night run
· No drinking of alcohol before, during or while anyone in the group is still on the river
Safety Meeting: regardless of the experience of the group or the river being run
· Discuss ANY potential hazard on the run, including obvious ones that most people know about
· Discuss current flow and how that will affect the trip
· Discuss how long the run is and how long it should take
· Describe the run and what to expect, any beta that is known
· Ask if anyone has any medical conditions or concerns about the run
· Explain signals (i.e. go left, go right, stop, eddy out, are you ok)
· Whistle blows (one, something happened eddy out/three, everyone get over here now someone’s in trouble)
· Everyone follows the leader
Introductions: This information is not just for the leads and sweeps but everyone on the trip
· Who has a river knife
· Who has a whistle
· Who has a throw bag
· Does anyone have a throw bag that doesn’t have a knife (suggest against)
· Who knows first aid/CPR
· Anyone take a swift water class
Leads and Sweep:
· The lead must know the run well
· At least one lead or sweep must be First aid /CPR certified
· Swift water rescue class is highly recommended
· Lead must be completely comfortable with the river
· Leads and sweeps must be willing and able to chase boats, gear and people
Hard Kayaks: Must have proper and properly fitted
· Spray skirt
· Float bags (not absolutely required but very highly recommended)
My Biggest problem with last night’s trip is I felt like if I stopped for anything I would be left behind and I’m not willing to accept that. We did get left behind even without stopping and we paddled our asses off. The fact that I even have to argue about how unsafe and shitty last night’s trip was makes me want to walk away. My friend from work told me today that if I hadn’t stayed with him, he would have gone to shore, left my boat and gear and hitched a ride home. We talked about this several times at the pool sessions and I thought we were on the same page and that’s the only reason I agreed to help with setting this club up. If any more trips are run like this, I will seriously NEVER paddle with you or this group again, EVER.