How to Perform a Tethered Rescue in Whitewater Paddling

How to Perform a Tethered Rescue in Whitewater Paddling
The tethered rescue is a last resort paddling rescue technique, as it requires the swimming rescuer, to place himself in danger by swimming out to a kayaker in distress. It should only be used in extreme cases, such as if the victim is unconscious or otherwise simply unable to rescue himself. The swimming rescuer must be a very strong swimmer and must be equipped with a rescue vest that allows him to instantly disconnect from the tether, if necessary, for his own safety.

Instructions

Difficulty: Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Rescue vest
  • Rescue vest
Step 1
Use this rescue only as a last resort because it places the swimming rescuer in danger. Check to make sure there is nothing that the rope can get hung up on between the shore, the point the rescuer will swim to upstream of the kayaker in distress, between this point and the kayaker in distress, and then between the kayaker in distress and the shore. Have a predetermined exit point, if possible, and position additional rescuers there to help recover the swimmer and victim, if possible.
Step 2
Attach one end of the tether line to the rear of the rescue vest. Have the swimming rescuer the vest. The rescuer must be very familiar with how the quick-release chest harness feature of the rescue vest works, because his life may depend on his ability to release the harness and untether from the line in an emergency.
Step 3
Perform a hip belay from the shoreline to manage the tether line as the rescuer swims to a point upstream of the victim who then floats downstream, feet first.
Step 4
Have the rescuer hold the victim from behind, both arms wrapped underneath the victim's arms, as you pull them in to shore.

Tips & Warnings

 
Make sure the rescue line has no knots or loops in it at all--the tangles caused by knots or loops might be dangerous or even fatal to the swimmer and the victim. Position any extra rescuers to help anchor the belayer, monitor the tether to ensure it is knot and loop free, communicate with the swimming rescuer, and downstream to help recover the swimmer and victim if they're forced to detach from the tether.
 
Make sure the rescue line has no knots or loops in it at all--the tangles caused by knots or loops might be dangerous or even fatal to the swimmer and the victim.
 
Position any extra rescuers to help anchor the belayer, monitor the tether to ensure it is knot and loop free, communicate with the swimming rescuer, and downstream to help recover the swimmer and victim if they're forced to detach from the tether.

Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

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