Keep it Simple Little Things

It's The Little Things That Count

By: Butch Hendrick

A national report showed that for every one person who is killed in a skiing accident fifteen die from drowning. The ski industry is reviewing the possibility of mandatory helmets. Meanwhile, the water industry cannot seem to educate the public safety industry or the general public to the need for personal flotation devices, to decrease the potential number of drowning or near drowning accidents.

I will never forget watching Virgil Chambers sitting at NASAR seminars and giving presentations while wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) for the entire day. The point he was trying to make was incredible, and as people laughed he smiled. I always felt he was probably thinking; I made you think, didn’t I.

Well perhaps Virgil needs to walk around the country wearing his PFD, making people think. It seems that every other week we see a newscast or front-page press of would-be rescuers in the water without the protection of a PFD. Children drown, Adults drown, police officers drown, fire fighters drown, lifeguards drown, and would-be Rescuers drown – just like the victims they jumped in the water to save! Anyone can drown! Anyone!

The concept of putting on a PFD when performing water operations should be to public safety personnel as familiar as putting on your underwear, shoes and socks. There should be no excuse. Shortcutting safety procedures can only increase the chances of disaster. If you would not enter a fully involved fire without turnout gear, if you would not become involved in a gun fight without a gun, if you would not put your cut hand on a HIV patient’s bleeding wound without a glove or other protection, then why would you get in the water without a PFD?

We tend to think of water as a recreational environment. When someone is drowning or is in trouble in the water, what does that tell us about that water environment? When a rescue needs to be performed, the water environment and the operation at hand have nothing to do with recreation. Your life is on the line, and a PFD will keep your head above water.

Watch for upcoming articles in SORTIE on the proper use of a PFD and the proper PFD for the operation at hand.

Think First, Prepare, then Rescue!




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Last modified: April 08, 2003