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Darwin Vs. Education: To help and educate or let nature take its course

  • Educated and leave: Tell them they are an idiot, keep going

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Educate and help: Tell them they are an idiot, give them help getting down

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Let nature take its course: Smile, wave, and keep paddling

    Votes: 0 0.0%

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Discussion Starter #1
Yesterday I saw a guy at the top of a class IIIish drop that I was heading down. He was sitting there with his dog, trying hard as hell to get his skirt on and couldn't get it. I then noticed that he (and his dog) were PFD-less, helmetless, and paddling alone. I said hello and proceeded through. Towards the end, I told my girlfriend to hold up a minute, let's see if the guy comes through swimming. I eddy out, get throwbag ready, and sure enough, I see dog's head, guy's head, and a boat, all seperate, all swimming. Another boater that I was talking to below went after this guy's gear, etc.

The question is, should I have assumed that this guy was clueless, and point out that clueless beginners need to not endanger themselves by
1.Paddling alone
2. No helmet
3. No pfd
4. Poor dog

?????

I could have offered him a ride on my raft if I had been more agressive about pointing out that he's an idiot. Please, No plastic vs. rubber arguing, I'm a kayaker too and sick of hearing that stupid discussion. Also, as being swiftwater rescue trained, CPR, 1st Aid, etc, what is our duty to help? I basiclly stood by and made sure he and the dog made it through, tried to grab his boat, and kept going when someone else beat me to it.

I've noticed that people in general don't like others they don't know telling them what they should and shouldn't do, it is generally not polite.
 

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I don't want to impose a duty of care string here but being Rescue/CPR trained, you are kind of under the obligation to do so.
I know it sucks but if you don't stop the clueless or at least warn them of the danger they are in then you put yourself in the position that your skills could be needed.

Do it in the manner of "It is the law that you must wear a PFD on the river, Show the foolish the gouges on your helmet and let them know the danger they are putting you in by haveing to help them..."

Saftey first is what keeps the rivers from being closed......

Was he barefoot too?
 

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I vote for option d) tell them to get the F off the river, so you don't have to rescue them. Of course, I believe everyone is obliged to rescue ANYONE they see in danger. I once witnessed 2 guys in an open canoe getting ready to put on the numbers. I told them to pack it up and try the nearest lake, so I wouldn't have to rescue them. I was tactful about it; I didn't insult their intelligence, but asked them to drive down and look at number 5, deciding if they were ready to run something like that without pfds or floatation in the canoe, and hey were very thankful.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yeah, I guess I was suprised that he was doing that. I figured he must have a buddy around the corner or something waiting for him, and maybe he had set his helmet down or something. Anyways, once I got through, I eddied out and watched for him. In retrospect, I should have just said, "hey man, did you loose your helmet and pfd, you want me to look for it?" and see if he goes "P-F-What?"

Anyways, the section isn't difficult (Yarmony rapid on Upper Colorado below Radium) but was kind of rocky. In general, even on class II I think PFD's are needed especially for kayaks and canoes. Helmets for kayakers is a no brainer! Case in point: fatality about 2 weeks ago from PFDless canoer out there.

I've banged up my forehead even with my helmet on while kayaking in low water. Anyways, thanks for the insight, I will be more inquiring and vocal next time.
 

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hmmm.... this one is really for White Lightning and in line with Swim Team Cap'n..... I'm not certain what state statutes look like in CO, but here in TN, if you have any certifications or training whatsoever (swiftwater, wilderness rescue, first aid, CPR, girl scout badge in applying bandaids, whatever), you're actually legally obligated to intervene &/ or provide services if someone is imminent danger to themselves or others, or is already acutely injured-- but if they're just looking lost or clueless, it's a different story.

That being said, moral obligation is a beast of an entirely different color.... and that grey area between the two a bit of a judgment call.

I just had this same discussion with one of my friends on a run yesterday-- after he (VERY experienced c-1'er) and myself (does okay intermediate paddler) watched an obvious novice in an open boat drop into something he had NO business being in (4' standing waves down the middle with recirculating holes on either side (not to mention, the current pushed right into an overhanging cliff with a couple of nasty undercuts). It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion, but before either of us could yell or do anything, the guy was out of the boat, canoe upside down in the water, with my buddy and I just standing there laughing our asses off. I mean, we ultimately did lend a hand, but it was kinda one of those things you saw coming and thought, no way he's actually gonna run this thing (there was a PERFECT spot for him to portage... we were standing there scouting it, so there's no way he could've missed us/ it?). It's kinda one of those sticky, ticky situations. We should've probably said or done something, but common sense was telling us he wasn't going to take the risk??
 
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I think the "can-I-live-with-myself?" rule is always good.

Do what you need to feel ok with all possible out comes in a situation. If you can live with someone maybe dying because you didn't help you're good to go. If you can't live with that and you have the ability to help, then you probably want to do something.

Chances are you'll neve see the dumb pfdless, dog endangering dumb ass again, but you do have to live with yourself.

You're only responsible for you.

That said... what an idiot!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yeah, it wasn't probably a life or death rapid, but then again there was a fatality on this same easy run a couple weeks ago. That's why I passed by, I guess thinking maybe I just didn't see his helmet or pfd that was behind a rock or something, then decided to hang out and see if he comes swimming through. It was almost comical, I told my gf "let's pull over and see if this guy doesn't come swimming down in a minute or two" Righ after I said that, I saw dog head, guy's head, and boat coming down.

Once again, this is like II+ maaaybe III- Yarmony rapid on the Upper C, but still was bony. I watched out for him, knowing there probably wasn't any real river danger, more idiot danger.

That said, in Colorado my understaning is that you aren't responsible or obligated to help strangers unless you are a physician. That said, being swifwater rescue technician, cpr, etc. I carry extra gear with me, and usually keep an eye out for situations where I can help out if necessary. I think that the idea and question is whether it is appropriate to take that a step further and try to be people's mother before they put themselves in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation. Next time I will stop, educate, and offer a ride/shadow them down. I think I just assume that others, especially solo paddlers know what they are doing and have already accepted the risks.

The only problem with that is that those people who take unnecessary risks (once again, maybe we're talking about a more difficult river scenario) could potentially put others at risk who feel obligated to assist them. I guess if you feel obligated to help the person when they get into trouble, it is in your best interest to educate or prevent said idiocy from taking place if possible.

Anyways, keep your eyes out for tubers, beginners, swimmers, etc when you are out there. And I guess just don't assume that anyone knows what they are doing if you aren't sure.
 

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No one should be out without a pfd. I have seen and heard way too much crap this year to let it pass. I would tell him to get off the river and I would have given the dog a ride.
 

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Take a deep breath, you are probably about to gasp...it's devil's advocate time...

Definately save the dog...as for the moron..well...aren't there enough morons out there? It's like when you're watching a nature show when you're a kid and the lion kills the baby wildebeast that was just calved and so cute and you ask your dad "why didn't the camera man save it, daddy?" and he says "because it's nature and we're not supposed to intervene, son". We've short circuted evolution to the point where I think our species may actually be growing DUMMER. Stupid people are supposed to meet with an untimely end before they can reproduce. It's how the herd stays strong.

That being said I would still help the idiot. I'm just sick of dumb people and venting.
 

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BTW, on the whole, this is NOT a bad or exceedingly "dangerous" river, per se. The guy had put in another two miles downstream, he would've had a fairly clean run with class I+ water at the most. The upper part, though, has the II+/ III runs and then drops thru the falls (the only really gnarly/ scary thing on this river, and it's kind of an anomaly) where there's another couple of mild features right before a takeout. It's like, kayakers get the upper part, and the place we'd be finishing up & taking out is the place it'd be safe for canoeists like that guy to start putting in.

.... just thought I'd disclaimer this so it didn't come off like I was/ we were trying to be a couple of badasses or something! ;) Hey, I'm all about not putting my friends' or my own ass on the line out there myself, y'know?
 

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Sitting in the eddy last night, watching the endless line of tubers and k-mart rafts float by,no helmets or pfd's made for some cheap entertainment. but it also reminded me of some of the dumb ass things i did(and occasionaly still do) as a novice kayaker.Looking back it's nice to know people were covering my back and were willing to take the time to help me become a better paddler.Maybe some well deserved smack talking, but not a condescending @#$%# you.There are rockstars that were experts the first time in their boats,that have never done anything stupid,that are egostistical enough to believe that they'll never need help and this isn't really their problem.Cool. for the rest of us, rivers and paddling are an such awesome experience that I think we can share a little time and info with the "clueless".
 

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here is another situation I have seen 100 times. people floating "mild" stretches of river (class 2 +/-) in walmart rafts, inner tubes and air matresses with no PFD. Or floating on an air matress through a water park with no PFD or helmet.

There we are wearing full armor sitting in the eddy and watching joe six-pack float trough the man made hole with a cotton t-shirt.

I am not one for advocating un neccesary sinage but should play parks and put-ins assume that idiots will run the river and post signs that say all river runners must wear protective gear??

Yes, even helmets for tubers (potatos?)

Maybe a water craft to protective gear chart.

seems rediculus but some how people need to be educated to take resonsibility for their own saftey. Or else someone else must risk their own to save them.
 

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Not only is it the kind thing to do but we also have a self interest in preventing the clueless from bringing their disaster to our playground. To name a few:

* We may be able to prevent a rescue situation that puts us or boating friends in peril,

* More deaths on the river means more pressure from soccer moms to close or more stringently regulate river access,

* Boaters get a chance to have an encounter with the a generally non-boating part of the public. If done skillfully and compassionately, this can reflect well upon the boating community in general and help our causes such as access or river conservation,

* It helps keep the river free of tattered walmart rafts, and twisted canoes that can pose a real hazard.

We can easily forget that these people don't actually get up in the morning and say "I'm going to go drown myself and endanger my loved ones and pets." A lot of them are risk-takers like us - the main difference is that they're making a bad decision about how to prepare for fun on the water. I think that if they don't look like they know what they're doing, we should tell them what they're about to get into, what rapids lie ahead. Someone who's wearing/carrying all kinds of specialized gear, obviously at home in the river environment, should be able to get their attention; & they'll probably listen better if its done in a friendly, ("how's it going?") manner than if someone's just bitching at them and calling them idiots. If you've never done something really stupid in your life and survived by the grace of God, I bet you're in the minority.

--Andy
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I'm glad I threw this discussion out there. There have been a lot of accidents out there this year, and not all of them were/are on the Upper A at monster high water. People tend to give me shit sometimes for being overly prepared. I've guided float trips where girls get pissy about wearing PFD's for tan lines, etc., but I insist even if it is class II. I always think that once they've been chundered in a hole, stuck under a rock, or learn about body extraction, then they can decide on their own, but until then, if they are my responsibility to rescue or recover in an accident, they have to wear it.
 

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Last Saturday on the Numbers run, our group was taking a break just downstream of Number 4 when a woman and her boyfriend brought a recreational sea kayak down the hill and prepared for her to put on by herself. We took a low-key approach and asked her if she knew the river and was prepared for what she would encounter. She responded that she knew the river and was prepared. She did wear a helmet and PFD.

I think we agreed at the time, by assessing her willingness to listen and finding she was unwilling to reconsider her plans, we intervened appropriately for the situation. We expected she might have problems, but did not feel she was ready to listen to any advice that would cause her to re-think her plan.

Downstream of Number 6 we found her boat wrapped around a rock with the cockpit against the rock. We could not tell if she was still inside.

We worked as quickly as we could but still spent 10-15 minutes freeing her boat without knowing whether this was going to be a body recovery. We all shared a feeling of trepidation until, with great relief, we found she was not in the boat.

We ultimately located her downstream and reunited her with her boat, where she waited for her boyfriend to come looking for her.

I can tell you, between the time, we found her boat and determined that she was not inside; I was asking myself should I have worded my concerns to her more strongly when she was putting on.

I talked to her later in the day, and our conversation reinforced my impression that a stronger approach would not have changed her plans. I guess if there is a lesson here, it is if something happens, will you feel that you did what you reasonably could to prevent it.

We were just happy that the cost of her actions were limited to gear damage and inconvenience, and she did get a relatively cheap lesson out of the experience. Hope she learned it.
 

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Another angle on this discussion.

What about law inforcement officer that feel a legal obligation to remove a person from what they feel is potentially a dangerous situation? I have read a ton of flaming on that issue alone. It is not all that differnt from this issue. They are just doing their job right? If you tell a person to get off the river then you are just like that cop. But ultimately I dont give a damn.

The issue of tolerance and "live and let live" is one that frustrates me a bit. Often times we think if the person is not harming others then he should be able to do what he chooses. But I disagree. Ultimately if we put our lives in danger then we are putting others at risk in different ways and to different degrees. First the resuers are in danger, then depending on the level of severity you or they put family and friends at risk. If they die then they leave family and friends full of hurt and "what ifs".

So at times I may come off as a pompus judgemental ass but I say tell them how stupid they are not just for their benefit but also for mine and their family and freinds. I have no doubt that atleast they would thank you for it.

benrodda
 

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WL,
Glad you brought this subject up too, my friend. I think it's produced some really insightful discussion, & dealt with questions that've crossed everyone's mind from time to time on the river. Yeah, we've all made our share of mistakes (or maybe I'm speaking for myself here? LOL) or had a couple of laughs at someone else's expense out there, but Mike's story really drives home the point that situations that may be good for a river carnage chuckle can quickly turn into something where alot more could potentially be on the line.


BakedPotato made the comment about installing signs at put ins or playparks letting folks know, at the very least, wearing a PFD is mandatory: I think it's a great idea, and might be worth pursuing with a draft proposal or board appeal at the local level first. I'm sure y'all wouldn't have any problems finding enough people who've been on body recoveries or nasty resuces to get together and draft something-- you guys have to have a couple of attorneys who boat regularly out there, or at least an empathetic ear or two in your local council/ political pool who could lend a hand coming up with something more formal?

In this area, the TVA provides energy for several states (they also pollute the hell out of our rivers, but that's a different thread....), and a couple of those states *have* adopted policies of placing signage at all their river put-ins. Even float streams and class I rivers in AL have signs mandating anyone who uses the river wear "appropriate" coast-guard approved floatation devices. As backwards as AL can be, they install signs ON THE RIVER BANK itself if features are coming up exceeding about a class II+ run. It's not pretty, no, but the signs aren't all over the place, either. And at least folks know a) they HAVE to wear a PFD on the water, and b) something is coming up where they're taking a "significant" risk, or could be placing others at risk by trying to run it. TVA doesn't manage all the rivers and streams in the state, but at least they try to encourage people to act responsibly on the waterways that are under their control.
 
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