You want to check out rapidproducts.com I just was talking with Lyle and Jeff after a session at Union and they were showing off their stuff...pretty cool. I think you can e-mail them at lyle or Jeff @ rapidproducts too.
I have not had to use one in an emergency situation. I have practiced in the river and in a tank with both Rapid Air and Quick Air. They are easy to use and the best devices of their kind.
While they may seem expensive, everything is in its early incarnations. Sweets Helmets seemed ridiculously priced and now they're commonplace. It's a safety device and like any safety device it will seem extraneous and thus overpriced until you or someone you know needs one.
They will only get better. Rapid Air will keep yours up to date as their technology progresses. It is made by boaters for boaters. Buy yourself a little larger margin of safety and help a fellow boater's business get off the ground.
Demo one in Denver at Confluence Kayaks or look for one of the guys wearing a PFD with a big Rapid Air patch on the back.
Little River / Alabama Suicide Run / Rapid: Humpty Dumpty. IV+ I ran the wrong line on this Rapid and spent well over a minute stuck in a crease / Hole up against a large Rock. After about 30 seconds I took a hit off the Rapid Air and then another hit just before being kicked out of the hole and into a boxed in terminal eddy. That eddy kept recirc'g me under a rock shelf. I took two more hits of Rapid Air while waiting on a rescue boater to set up my evacuation from the eddy. I don't know if it saved my life but I do know that it gave me the extra breath I needed so that I could regain my composure, thus allowing me to remain calm and help my rescuers help me. I also know that if you think you can hold your breaths for 2 minutes..think again. Under extreme duress the heart rate peaks and your two minutes quickly become 20 seconds, especially in 45 degree water.
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