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Old 09-01-2019, 08:23 AM   #1
Wldrns
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Swiftwater/flood rescue

What a ride I had this past week. As a NYS SAR first responder volunteer, I have unbelievable opportunities open to me. A self declared expert at map and compass land navigation, four years ago I was recruited by NYS Homeland Security to teach a course in Land Navigation to law enforcement, EMTs and SAR personnel from all over NY State.

At the same training facility location, the state put up a swiftwater rescue training venue last year, designed by the same guy who designs Olympic whitewater competition and training facilities, the first such rescue training facility in the nation. This 68 yr old spent several days this past week certifying as a swiftwater/flood rescue technician along with youngsters less than half my age. The initial requirement was a 250 meter swim test in an indoor pool using a variety of mandatory strokes. Fail the swim test and go home, as some did. The rest of the week was swimming and boating in madly rushing Class 3+ whitewater, pumped in a narrow channel at 100,000 gallons/minute.

It was extremely intense and intensely fun at the same time. The whole thing (including lunches and hotel rooms) is free for first responders, courtesy of NY taxpayers. If something like that was offered to the public at a water park, it would cost many hundreds of dollars to spend 4 days for the same experience.

Here's a sample of what I did all week:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdZz80D4BAc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlF4P9Zx5uE

No matter the age, by day 3 everyone was a bit sore, but it felt good and was so much fun all for free.
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Old 09-01-2019, 05:35 PM   #2
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That's awesome Wildrns!

What a spectacular facility.

I hope I'm never in need of your services, but I'm glad there are folks like you to help out when things go bad.
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Old 09-01-2019, 07:35 PM   #3
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I assume this was in Oriskany. Amazing facility. I had the opportunity to train at their indoor 'Main Street" as well as the "Trailer Park" and other venues. I have been to similar facilities all over the country and have seen none better. Great resource for LEOs and First Responers.
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Old 09-01-2019, 08:13 PM   #4
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I assume this was in Oriskany.
Right, at the old county airport, transformed to a $45M training facility, mostly for law enforcement and first responder types. There are many courses taught there, including active shooter and others for gun carrying law enforcement (using blanks or non-lethal rounds of course). I have been an instructor of land navigation there for the past several years. It is ok for that, but unfortunately, being an airport, there is not a lot of terrain in the fairly extensive and swampy woods, so most of the navigation training route consists of no more than dead reckoning with compass and pace counting. Terrain association is not really possible in the flatland forest. We cross the runways several times and the most dangerous part for us is when rookie cops are on a training course in their cruisers, driving on the runway swerving between setup cones and chasing "bad guys" at 100mph.

See what is taught there by googling "SPTC calendar". Open for law enforcement or first responders only.
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Old 09-02-2019, 04:06 PM   #5
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Just 3 weeks ago I rescued a father and son on Osgood Pond, windy day , whitecaps and they flipped in the middle of the lake. Towed the elderly father who was becoming hypothermic to shore, had him take off his wet clothes and stand in the sun to warm up and went back to get the son and their canoe and gear. With 30+ years of whitewater paddling from the mid 60's to the mid 90's, I witnessed the development of many of the fastwater rescue techniques in use today. In the whitewater world, rescuing a good paddler that knows how to be rescued is a much different thing than a rescue of someone that is not really aware of their surroundings, panicked etc. adds a whole new metric to the rescue. I'm sure that was part of the training.
I was a lifeguard a couple summers when I was young, first lesson was don't let a victim get hold of you, physical contact is a last resort, and if so get a contact on them that gives you complete control.

That said,If we have another one of those really rough water days on the 90 Miler next week, I'm staying next to Pauls boat.

John M.
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Old 09-02-2019, 06:21 PM   #6
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In the whitewater world, rescuing a good paddler that knows how to be rescued is a much different thing than a rescue of someone that is not really aware of their surroundings, panicked etc. adds a whole new metric to the rescue. I'm sure that was part of the training.
I was a lifeguard a couple summers when I was young, first lesson was don't let a victim get hold of you, physical contact is a last resort, and if so get a contact on them that gives you complete control.
Very true. Some the best learning experience at the end of the week's training was a couple of role playing scenarios, set up in the channel without students present. I had a situation where we had to deal with an instructor who was "unconscious", propped on "rocks" on the far side of the channel. Meanwhile another instructor came down the cascade riding a blow up unicorn, which flipped next to us. Quite comical actually, until he became belligerent and overly excited about rescuing his near dead buddy, and almost as excited about his now lost unicorn. What a jerk. Should have gotten rid of him right away. In another a kayaker (a manikin) got wrapped around a strainer. The whole scenario exercise was very instructive. Mistakes will be made and are the best learning tool. Better now than later.

Actually I do the same thing during the BSA trek leader (Voyageur) training I do every year. I play "Bobby", the nightmare scout of your dreams, or Mr. Finkelstien, the worst scoutmaster ever. Lots of important lessons can come out of a good role play.

The pace of rescue training followed the mantra of "preach, reach, throw, row, go". In that order.

I fear for wrong way winds next weekend during the race, especially on Long Lake. Paddling 10 miles directly into a strong north wind with whitecaps is not fun. Did it before, will do it again.
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Old 09-03-2019, 08:29 AM   #7
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The hurricane is right on schedule to provide North easterly winds!
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