Friday, August 07, 2009

Rescue Complete, what worked and what didn't

TIME MACHINE was fortunate to be able to assist a couple of very lucky dinghy sailors who were in serious trouble on Lake Huron. See the whole story in the next blog entry (OH NO...not again). Many things went right, but as always there were some things that we could have been done better.

GOOD STUFF:
  • Keeping a constant watch, even in rough conditions and under power with autopilot
  • Cockpit VHF radio remote allowed for 25W transmissions to Coast Guard from at the helm
  • Quick crew work on dousing and securing the mainsail, enabled us to maneuver as needed
  • Crew followed orders without hesitation, enabled the skipper to think ahead and to anticipate the next steps in the process
  • Taking a pass to assess the victims status, determine what they wanted and to look for floating lines and rigging that could hamper close approaches
  • Patient support from Coast Guard, they monitored the transmissions, acknowledged copy and facilitated by not making requests while we had our hands full
  • Clear and consistent radio protocol. All transmissions from TIME MACHINE were in the format... Station Sarnia - Time Machine (the body of the message) OVER and they responded Time Machine - Station Sarnia (the body of the message) OVER. You always knew who was being called and who was calling.
COULD HAVE GONE BETTER:
  • Lack of a boarding ladder. TIME MACHINE has no boarding ladder. In this case the victims had enough strength that they could have used one. We did deploy the loops of dock lines to be used as footholds, but mainly relied on grabbing the victim and hauling them up by brute force.
  • Did not get the cold victims out of wet clothing. In this case getting the victims under blankets and out of the wind was sufficient. However, we should have been prepared to get them dry to speed the warming process.
  • Did not take victims temperature. In this case the lack of uncontrolled shaking and the immediate return of color to lips and cheeks was a pretty good indicator that hypothermia and shock were not a primary concern. However, taking a body temperature reading would have been helpful in the assessment process.
  • Did not maintain contact with the victims after they got to their car. In this case the victims were stable and in the care of a family member. However, we should have gotten a cellphone number, where they were going and probably the make model and plate of the car.
WHERE WE BLEW IT:
  • Use of rescue gear on the boat. In this case we were able to pull the victims aboard. We have a Lifesling system (on the stern rail) and a lifting tackle system (at the mast) specifically for helping to haul victims aboard. Had we been more practiced with the LifeSling and Hoisting Tackle we would have thought to use it.
  • We were not prepared to have a crew member enter the water if needed. In this case we were fortunate that both victims were conscious and moving. We needed to be prepared for the possibility of a victim in shock, not moving and listless. This could, as a last resort, require sending a crewman over the side. Doing so without endangering the crewman and in a pre-planned manner was not an option. We may have needed to wait for outside assistance.
  • Use of medical books and information. We have several medical references aboard that we could have consulted. In this case we were lucky that the victims symptoms were pretty obvious and quickly cleared up.
The lessons learned from this experience will be used to make sure we are practiced and confident with ALL the tools, resources and gadgets aboard. You just never know when you will need one of them!

Robert Gordenker,
TIME MACHINE Sailing Team.

2 Comments:

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Blogger brenda Mary said...

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