Please post details of Saturday afternoon incident. My understanding is the kayaker is OK, thanks to quick-thinking onlookers. Posting as much detail as possible will help others in the kayak community. Thanks.
Our large group (9 paddlers in all) was running our second lap on upper/middle/lower narrows. We took forever in upper as most of the group was engaged in removing a huge log from the right side of Supercollider. This detail may sound ancillary to the story, but I believe it ended up playing a big part in the outcome of it.
After removing the log, we continued down through the rest of upper & into middle with a much quicker pace. Just above "Swinging Bridge" or "Green Bridge" rapid, we came up on 2 separate groups of 2 paddlers. A member of one of the groups happened to be a friend of ours who was showing his friend down middle. Though we didn't stop our parade of paddlers to chat, the 2 peeled out in the middle of our group to join us in running the boof line in the right slot of Swinging Bridge. Eddy space is limited through here, & with such a large group, I only paused long enough to watch as 4 paddlers made it through the slot successfully -- the last of whom was one of the new "guests".
From here, you typically move left & head toward a sweet boof along the river left bank. Just upstream of the river left boof is a large flat-faced boulder in the center of the river -- this is where the incident took place (unbeknownst to us in the front of the pack). I proceded through the boof line & looked back upstream as several paddlers made it through with no problems. Just downstream is a wave train flanked by two large eddies. This is where 2 people from our group, a straggler from a separate downstream group, & I convened. We noticed a break in the parade & then saw throwbags flying upstream. We got out & ran alongside the road to find that the rest of our group along with the other "guest" & both of the other group of 2 were pulling the second "guest" up onto a river-right pile of wet boulders. They began CPR & rescue breathing immediately after removing the victim's PFD & helmet.
A vehicle was flagged-down immediately & instructed to call 911 from Mishawaka. From river-left it was unclear whether the victim was breathing. Regardless, he had to be moved across the river to the road, but the bridge for which the rapid was named was gated & protected by two burley locks. Another vehicle was flagged down & this one happened to have bolt cutters & a cordless sawz-all. We put them to work cutting through the gate on the bridge. This vehicle also had a small ladder that worked perfectly as a makeshift backboard. Around this time the brother of one of our group members happened to be cruising the canyon & stopped to help. He offered a big foam pad & a sleeping bag.
We loaded the victim, who was breathing but unresponsive, onto the "backboard" & carried him out of the river, up into the woods, & across the bridge. Since by the time we'd gotten him to the road, emergency response had not arrived, we loaded him into the back of the brother's Pathfinder & sped him down the canyon with a lead car. We flagged down emergency response as they approached. The victim was then loaded into an ambulance which in turn met a chopper in Poudre Park. As of tonight, the victim is recovering in PVH & is reportedly doing well.
In my mind, several things were critical in saving this guy's life: (1.) Timing. The victim was recovered & resucitated quickly by the members of our group who were onsite; (2.)Teamwork. As big as our rescue team became, every single person played a crucial role or duty in reviving & evacuating the victim. There was some heroic shit that took place to get the victim unpinned & out of the river, & the CPR & rescue breathing shifts that revived him & kept him alive. Small things like having enough people to carry his 250 pounds up & out became big things. And the fact that decisions were made without deliberation or chaos & panic was very important; (3.) Luck. Because we took so long through upper, our group met their group at a very fortunate time. What are the odds that we'd be able to immediately flag down a truck that had bolt cutters, a sawz-all, & a "backboard"? The brother that offered the foam pad, a sleeping bag to keep the victim warm, & a surrogate emergency vehicle ... The straggler from the downstream group who was in the eddy with me happened to be an MD. He rushed back upstream with his boat & was able to assist with resucitation. The victim was very lucky; (4.) Emergency response. Though they hadn't arrived by the time we got the victim to the road, they were surprisingly fast given how busy the canyon was Saturday.
I'm sure the guys who witnessed the actual pin have more details as to how the pin occurred & how they got the victim out of it. I was at the front of the pack & came late to assist, so above is all I can really tell you.
There are many lessons to be learned from this situation, not the least of which is LEARN CPR & RESCUE BREATHING. Learn swiftwater rescue. Those skills absolutely saved this dude's life.
Todd's summation of the incident is right on. One thing Id like to emphasize and drive home (the news report got it wrong) is that there was no professional EMS on site that resuscitated the victim but it was done by fellow boaters. If we had waited for EMS to arrive he would have died. It sounds strange hearing that because he did die. He was dead, no pulse, no breathing, dark blue for what seemed like an eternity but in actuality was a mere couple of minutes. He died and CPR brought him back. The stars aligned in many ways for this man to live yesterday but if CPR wasnt a part of this story it would have ended on a very somber note.
I know a lot of us have had a class or two but perhaps not in the last few years. I for one have slacked. And you say, yeah I know dude.. it's easy, I'll remember... pump on the chest, clear the passage way, cock the head back and then a couple of breaths in the mouth, rinse repeat.. but it's not easy, and you won't remember. Especailly if it's your best friend that your pumping on...or your girlfriend/wife. When an event unrolls on you as it did us yesterday, things get really emotioanl and crazy. Having a recent CPR course might just be what you need to seperate yourself from the emotional situation and get business done.
Thanks everyone who participated in the effort yesterday, you guys made me proud, and thanks to everyone who knows how important CPR is to this community. -trev
Thank's for the great post Todd. This was an outstanding effort by all concerned. The actions of the boaters around Ryan, without a doubt, saved his life. Ryan's family is very thankful that such a top group of boaters surrounded Ryan yesterday. They would very much like to get in touch with the people that helped him. Pease forward name and contact information to me at [email protected] so I can forward the information to his family.
The are a number of people asking how Ryan is doing, so here's an update...
Although he is still in critical condition he is expected to make a full recovery. There is no sign of brain injury, thanks to the quick rescue and immediate CPR response. He does have water in his lungs, which can cause complications, however, he is getting great care and is making steady progress.
I was running sweep yesterday when the accident happened, so I saw the event unfold from the last man down perspective. After doing the boof and crossing under the bridge, I started going left to hit the boof Todd mentioned above. Ahead of me I saw a member from our group, still in his boat, working to unpin a yellow playboat. My initial thought was, "God, he's working hard to just unpin a stupid boat", but then I saw that he looked concerned beyond a simple gear rescue and figured there must be someone in the boat. Todd covered everything about the rescue, so I'll add some details about the nature of the pin.
First, it was in low water conditions, the pineview guage was a bit under 2'. The rapid was not powerful, but the pin had some bad physics going against it. The rock is relatively square shaped with a flat side facing the current almost squarely, but not quite. The corner that created the pin was the furthest most upstream corner of the rock. 80% of the water hitting the rock pillowed and went left and 20% went around the right side. The bottom of his boat was facing upstream and for most of its length it was against the upstream side of the rock. The person, however, was pushed over his back deck and wrapped around the right side of the rock around the leading corner. From that angle the person could not reach forward to pop his skirt and because he was pushed onto his back deck he wasn't able get the leverage he needed to really be able to push off the rock either.
Anyway, that was my view of the pin. I would also like to throw my 2 cents into Trevor's observations. Since I was the last person down I didn't know how long the boat had been pinned. When the victim came out of the water he was totally purple and his eyes when we started rescue breathing where dead. He was not breathing and I couldn't find a pulse. I used my knife to cut his neck gasket and I think that was a big help in getting the air to him and giving his jugular vein some freedom. We had good group help. Two people held his legs out of the water and above his body to push blood to the head. Two guys on each side helped roll him whenever he puked (which he did after about two minutes of rescue breathing and then almost every minute after that) to clear his airway. And we weren't completely out of the river so they also stabalized him on the rock. On the head end of the body were three people. We took turns rescue breathing, holding his head while thrusting the jaw forward to clear the airway, and another person pinched the nose. This created a situation where every breath into him was going straight to his lungs without obstruction and the breather could supercharge the victim. Everyone was cool and no one wigged.
We camped up there that night and talked about what we did right and whether there was anything we may have been able to do better. One, of many, things we did right was to start rescue breathing as soon as we were able to stabalize the victim. Which because of how many people were present we were able to do on a round rock barely larger than a coffee table still 15 feet from shore. The second thing was that we didn't put anyone else in danger during the rescue.
CONSTRUCTIVELY, here's where I felt we could have improved. First, too many throw ropes got tossed. When I was running back upstream I saw what looked like confetti streamers going off on New Years' Eve. The guy who was in the water pulling on the victim only needed one rope. A great way to help him after that would have been to live bait in someone else to help with the 250 lbs. of limp body. He couldn't pull the body by the head, but if you pulled it by anything else his head fell back underwater. I wanted to livebait in but all the throw ropes were tangled. That being said, everyone saw this pretty quickly and went in sans rope and helped out. But in chest to waist deep water with no good footing that guy was so heavy, I think one guy attached to a rope on shore would have provided a lot of leverage.
Second thing that might have helped was to remove his drytop even quicker. Someone did some chest compressions and I am not sure they were over his chest because of all the gear between the chest and the hands -- I actually think his hands were over his stomach. Not that it matters much because I think the rescue breathing made the recovery, but if we would have had to get serious about massaging the heart I think clearer alignment would have helped.
In conclusion, about half the people there had taken a swiftwater rescue class. It was interesting to see how much less time was wasted because most of the people had practiced, really practiced how to do that stuff already. They kind of naturally saw what needed to be done and stayed calm. No one really became THE leader because everyone just knew what to do or they told the less certain people what to do. It was awesome. Someone went for help. Someone determined an evacuation method. Many people helped stabalize and aid the victim. Someone got blankets. When people were carrying him out and they got tired, another guy quickly came to substitute that person's place carrying the ladder/stretcher. Just awesome all around teamwork by EVERY person there. I went back again later and thanked those contractors who had the Sawzall and the ladder, that was awesome luck. BTW, they only had to cut one bolt on the bridge so the property damage was kept to a minimum.
My hope goes out to Ryan that he'll have a full and speedy recovery.
Sunday Evening 7:00 P.M. I had a chance to see Ryan at Poudre Valley Hospital. He is currently recovering in the ICU. He seemed to be in good spirts when I arrived. He is awake and alert! He is not able to speak due to the treakea tube down his throat, however, he was able to comunicate by writing messages back and forth to family and friends.
His condition appears to be improving. The hospital ran a CAT scan and noticed that his brain looked good, but his lungs looked cloudy due to the water intake. The hospital is hoping that in the next day or two they will be able to remove his treakea tube.
The hospital is allowing gift cards, flowers, and good wishes sent to his room.
His family has been very supportive and appreciates the teamwork that it took to save Ryan's Life. His family wants everyone to know how thankful they are for the help that was given to there son. Thank You !!!!!!!!!
Ryan say's hi with thumbs up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hard to say either way, but I can say that it wasn't the best equipment for the job. We are very glad to hear things are going well. He has some new friends that are conected to him in special way. Please keep the updates comming.
Pins can happen at really low flows in any class of rapid. The important thing is to watch your team while you progress down river and don't leave someone behind. That did not happen in this case, but it's a pet peeve of mine when I'm in the rear and no one looks back after a drop to see if I am still behind them. How many times have you been on a casual river and lost track of part of your group? Are they still surfing somewhere behind you, or did they go on around the next bend up ahead?
To address a couple questions ... to the best of my knowledge, Ryan was not very experienced. This is not a dis. Nor is it to say that he wasn't capable of doing the middle narrows. However, I think that his inexperience combined with his size relative to the boat he was paddling (Kingpin) could have definitely played a role in how things happened. Perhaps if he were in a different boat he wouldn't have been so "submerged" during the pin. Perhaps he would have been better able to make the move around the rock ... speculation. I do think that for his first run of the year in a tiny boat, Bridges or even Filter Plant would have been a better call.
Schizzle's comments about being aware of your party is spot-on. Creeking is a team sport. If you're not paying attention to what's going on behind you, then you're probably in over your head.
I'd like to see more paddlers being more realistic about their skill level & the choices they make in running "hard" water. We've all been there, we've all gotten in over our heads whether on class III or class VI. I watched yesterday as a party hacked their way down through upper & lower narrows, giggling while missing nearly every line .. & I seriously thought we were going to have a replay of Saturday. Perhaps I was just edgy from the day before, but how do you politely say "Get a f###ing clue!". I for one do not ever want to be a part of another situation like Saturday.
Isn't ANY sport in which your life may depend on your companions a TEAM sport?
This brings up an important issue - part of teamwork is having leadership that can balance the weaknesses and strengths of the individuals in a group, and having individuals who can remember their responsibilities.
The technical trip leader should set a run order that: 1) puts the more experienced boaters in lead and sweep positions, 2) puts experienced boaters near less experienced boaters in the middle so the novices can follow the lines of more experienced, and 3) ensures that if a novice goes for a swim, there's an experienced boater nearby to assist.
All should be working as a team and remember their assignments and responsibilities. This may require veterens to check their egos and be very mindful of their "shepherd" role. Importantly, experienced boaters have to accept that they may be required to pass up the chance to take a really sick line or to play in a hole that a novice is following them into. The experienced boaters should be paying attention to the lead & sweep boaters and particularly to any novices nearby.
A couple of examples of experienced boaters showing poor leadership:
1) I know a story of a hot kayaker leading a group into Sunshine Falls, then stopping to play while the others who couldn't see him from above followed him into a hole like lemmings. The hole would've been enough of a challenge for the less experienced boaters without first the leader, then the second, kayaks already in it. There was at least one really bad swim that could've been avoided and from what I understand, the swimmer never regained her confidence in Class IV water.
2) I watched as an experienced boater in a play cat made a really slick move at the top of Siedell's which his two novice rafter friends following had no chance of making. The lead boater stroked his ego but did so at the expense of his friends who both flipped their rafts. Ironically he'd been in too much of a hurry to stop and scout with the novices but was then delayed by righting their boats and regrouping.
No matter how good a boater someone is, if they can't look after novices and be willing to sacrifice some of their play experience for the sake of less-experienced companions, they still have a lot to learn. An experienced boater who is also an egotistical show-off can be more of a liability than an asset.
Andy I disagree...I see the point your trying to make yet I feel It is YOUR responsability to make your own judgements regarding your level and safety...Like Todd said we have all gotten in over our heads,it's part of the learning curve we all strive to push past...When I go out with my creeking friends I don't look for the weak link in the group,I look and myself and make sure I keep my shit tight...Your life depends on your decision making for the most part(freak things do happen,yet for most accidents there was a mistake with an individual decision...Whatever it may be)Not your friends...The friends are there,so when something goes wrong you have options...But ultimately your decision effects you as your the only one in your kayak...What Todd was saying is in difficult(4+,5) water their should be NO sheppard role,the group should be comfortable enough to watch their ass and whats going on around them...Kayaking is not a team sport until the shit hits the fan..
As for being on a browns or royal gorge,waterton,play park I think most great boaters I've seen will help novices without blinking an eye...Paddle safe and nice job to the peps who were there for ryan....
I had a pin in the same section and I believe on the same rock about 10 years ago in a dagger cross fire in relatively low water. Fortunately my head was above water, and my paddling partner saved my butte quickly. AWA statistics posted here previously show the majority of deaths take place in class 2 water. Great feedback about what should happen and what did happen. You are all awesome. Don't let the second guessing that inevitalbly takes place on this forum make you think otherwise!!
First--helluva job to all those who took part in the rescue. This is one lucky guy considering that statistically speaking, CPR in a pulseless individual is almost useless. Odds of a good outcome are very slim so hats off to all of you sho kept your cool and saved this man's life.
I agree with all of the comments posted. I don't think that it's all team or all individual. YOU have to make the right decision as to whether YOU should be on that stretch of water, no one can make that for you, but....once you're on the water I think that we should look out for one another in a group and make sure that someone's not missing. This may mean a sweep position or missing some surfing opportunities ect. BUt, if you're not comfortable with that person in your group or taking on those responsibilities I think that you have a right to tell them that they should not be on that stretch with your group. I'm not a class V boater, not even a solid IV boater and so when I boat with my solid V buddies we have an understanding that it;s an educational/safety minded trip. However, I wouldn't be offended if they told me to sit it out b/c they wanted to play some more or do some harder sections and not have to "babysit". Teaching less experience boaters is how we can give back to the sport--we all had to learn. But, that doesn't mean we have to do it every time we're on the river--you have to be able to enjoy yourself too.
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