Volunteering for Boating Safety and Water Rescue Work
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Volunteering for Boating Safety and Water Rescue Work

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I get asked this question constantly, ‘how do I do what you are doing’? The answer is that I do not have the answer, that is for you to decide and it begins with a discovery phase and personal ...

I get asked this question constantly, ‘how do I do what you are doing’? The answer is that I do not have the answer, that is for you to decide and it begins with a discovery phase and personal volition. Not the answer people are looking for but it’s a true answer. Many people think I have an opportunity waiting for them, but this is not true.
I manage a company (K38) that is an educational provider for occupational users with the knowledge being applied to their agency requirements and area of operations. K38 is not an organization that provides volunteer opportunities for RWC use, but I do have supportive answers that I followed myself through the years to get to the level of volunteerism that I enjoy today.
I am a self-taught, self-made and self-funded individual; there were no organizations to go to for my initial RWC education for search and rescue. Over time I created a platform that continually adapted throughout the decades based off of hard work, sacrifice, dedication, struggles and hard lessons in humanity and nature. It was not easy, nor is it now, but that is part of the reality of life and nature we call the forces of action.
My lessons learned were prior to RWC’s being accepted by safety agencies beginning in the late 1970’s, many years have passed and I’m still learning and adapting my knowledge base. There are great organizations you can investigate and interview to discover if you fit into their mission status and if you have a willingness to ‘pay your dues’ and join up.
Perhaps you don’t have a Rescue Water Craft background but you have passion for volunteering your energies. In the back of your mind there is a gnawing thought you visit often, you want to help. You don’t have any direct connections. You don’t know anyone and you don’t know where to start.
Perhaps you own your own Personal Watercraft and have assisted others in the past while out riding and you realize the value of helping others and want to apply yourself through a focused group effort. First off realize that you are addressing a ‘specific use’ of application.
Water Rescue Teams often employ several different methods, and disciplines or they may not use Rescue Water Craft (PWC). Typically a Rescue Water Craft is not the sole tool of water safety needs, it’s one of many employed on ‘some’ teams.

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Volunteering for Boating Safety and Water Rescue Work Volunteering for Boating Safety and Water Rescue Work Document Transcript

  • VOLUNTEERING FOR BOATING SAFETY AND RESCUE WORK The investigative process of volunteering your resources and capabilities begins with a thorough approach to accountability, actions and types of resources and volunteer programs in your area. This article will lend suggestions to consider for your outreach and inspection of some of the qualifications that may apply. Volunteers are a tremendous community resource focused on the greater good of mankind and community service. What questions should you ask and where do you begin?
  • Volunteering for boating safety and rescue work 2013 Volunteering for Boating Safety and Rescue Work – Where Do You Begin? Shawn Alladio-K38 November 21, 2013 I get asked this question constantly, ‘how do I do what you are doing’? The answer is that I do not have the answer, that is for you to decide and it begins with a discovery phase and personal volition. Not the answer people are looking for but it’s a true answer. Many people think I have an opportunity waiting for them, but this is not true. I manage a company (K38) that is an educational provider for occupational users with the knowledge being applied to their agency requirements and area of operations. K38 is not an organization that provides volunteer opportunities for RWC use, but I do have supportive answers that I followed myself through the years to get to the level of volunteerism that I enjoy today. I am a self-taught, self-made and self-funded individual; there were no organizations to go to for my initial RWC education for search and rescue. Over time I created a platform that continually adapted throughout the decades based off of hard work, sacrifice, dedication, struggles and hard lessons in humanity and nature. It was not easy, nor is it now, but that is part of the reality of life and nature we call the forces of action. My lessons learned were prior to RWC’s being accepted by safety agencies beginning in the late 1970’s, many years have passed and I’m still learning and adapting my knowledge base. There are great organizations you can investigate and interview to discover if you fit into their mission status and if you have a willingness to ‘pay your dues’ and join up. Perhaps you don’t have a Rescue Water Craft background but you have passion for volunteering your energies. In the back of your mind there is a gnawing thought you visit often, you want to help. You don’t have any direct connections. You don’t know anyone and you don’t know where to start. Perhaps you own your own Personal Watercraft and have assisted others in the past while out riding and you realize the value of helping others and want to apply yourself through a focused group effort. First off realize that you are addressing a ‘specific use’ of application. Water Rescue Teams often employ several different methods, and disciplines or they may not use Rescue Water Craft (PWC). Typically a Rescue Water Craft is not the sole tool of water safety needs, it’s one of many employed on ‘some’ teams. What is a Professional Volunteer? Definition of a Volunteer: A person who chooses to do work without getting paid to do it, one who voluntarily undertakes or expresses an interest in service work or takes part in a transaction while having no legal concern or interest. 1
  • Volunteering for boating safety and rescue work 2013 If you really want to pursue this, you have to want it. That means you need to first ask yourself viable questions regarding your character, how much time and money you will invest, the risks at hand, your willingness to participate and then make a commitment and follow through with it. Prepare an evaluation of your known strengths and capabilities. What areas of your background match up with your passion to serve others? Discovery The internet is your best resource for searching and orienting yourself for volunteer programs in your area. You can look for search and rescue volunteer groups regionally or locally in your area. The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is a fantastic resource for boating safety education and some areas of response in different Flotillas and Districts. The USCG Auxiliary has 17 districts with information on all their different Units. Read the mission statement of each group you investigate. Make a list of organizations and skillsets you believe match your capabilities. Prepare a plan of action and a list of goals and objectives for yourself. Or perhaps all you want to do is promote boater safety education and teach courses. The USCG Auxiliary or the US Power Squadron is two organizations you should contact for their criteria. USCG Aux US Power Squadrons (& Sail) www.CGAUX.org http://www.usps.org/ If you are in the Washington area near Longview, there is an all-volunteer team called South Pacific County Technical Rescue. They are a group I have worked with for many years and I have a high level of respect for these passionate and dedicated ‘Everyday Heroes’. They come from all walks of life, they train often and their commitment to their community and the tourists that enjoy their dangerous beachfront is one of our National Treasures. You can visit their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/spctrescue?ref=br_tf You should expect as a new team member to experience an awareness and operational adjustment the first 6 months to a year depending upon the timelines you invest and the team requirements. Integration of your mindset, skills and working with a team takes time. Be patient and continue to develop your knowledge base in surrounding capabilities. Remember this: The Life You Save May Be Your Own. Plan, prepare and train as often as you can. Orientation You will have a strong driving interest and will be eager to apply yourself. You may experience frustrations initially when you come to realize this is a process rather than an immediate result. You need to have a pragmatic and mature attitude and expectation of what you embark upon. You may witness exclusive groups and a political structure, this is true to life in every human environment, so be realistic, do not underestimate the value of commitment on the human scale. Another great benefit you will experience working with teams is the fellowship and camaraderie. Your commitment to the endurance of your investment in SAR work is that it’s a process quite similar to other things in life; there is no quick fix, so prepare for a long relationship. You may not always find the personal rewards you seek affirmed by others, but you can do it for yourself for the right reasons. If you are looking for getting attention and validation solely for the use of ‘search and rescue’ you are definitely going to be disappointed and probably should move onto other goals. In training you may be asked to do something outside of your comfort zone. You may need to seek out a mentor or ask for additional advice and constructive criticism. Any self-doubt you discover can be addressed by asking for support to reduce your anxieties and build confidence. 2
  • Volunteering for boating safety and rescue work 2013 If something described to you is not understand ask for clarification before you proceed, develop trust, make sure you have enough time invested in your skillset to have the confidence to perform in the real world. You may not be able to achieve this solely within your group, you may need to do this on your own time to catch up.     USCG AuxiliaryUS Power Squadron Volunteer Search and Rescue Teams or Programs Ocean Safety or Water Safety Programs If you cannot find a program available in your region, contact your local fire department of government and ask them for additional resources or if there is interest in creating a volunteer group. Realize this will be a long and enduring commitment that may be frustrating at times, but the goal is to serve and service means sacrifice. The Political Environment  New team member-Level of competency and skill  Orientation and training-Type of training requirements and equipment, updated  Leadership values, are they effective? Level of Physical Fitness – ‘High’  Strong Swimming Ability  Self-Rescue/Survival  Swim with all your PPE  Swim another person safely to near shore Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Each volunteer group will have a minimum requirement of PPE. Oftentimes PPE will be assigned on a loan basis or it will be mutual shared in the time of need by team mates. You may be required as part of your volunteer program to supply your own PPE, but with guidelines on what is needed. Here is a list of some of the items for your consideration, but is not necessarily all conclusive or required:          Drysuit or wetsuit (proper thickness for environment) for surface swimming: Drysuit- can have wrist or ankle enclosures, fixed boots or socks, front entry zipper, front relief zipper and interior pelvic to shoulder straps (note zipper and suit care) Gloves-Full finger gloves with strong palm/finger construction, wrist and palm Velcro enclosures Thermal undergarments: Full jumpsuit fleece or top/bottom, wool of felt socks. Preferred with wicking material for sweat and condensation Lifejacket: Type, fit and care. For my work I use a Type V special use for swiftwater. I am looking for 22-27 lbs. of buoyancy from a lifejacket, that is does not ‘rise’ above my head or straps pull out or loosen. I do not want any ‘kit’ in front of my stomach/chest so I can easily re-board RWC from waterline. Inflatable types are illegal for RWC operations Undergarments: Lycra underwear/leggings, rash guard for upper body, wetsuit Eye Protection: Make sure the frame of your eye pro fits securely inside the helmet face opening or around the circumference of the helmet frame Helmet: You may need several for climate changes seasonally if you are wearing a ‘hood’ for warmth, so size appropriately and affix all your straps so there is no ‘bucket effect’ in the water when dragged or swimming so it does not fall forward into your nose Foot Protection: Ankle high hard soled water boots Accessories: You may be asked to utilize a host of additional resources, such as radios, whistle, throw bags, knife, reflective tape, strobe, waterproof light, swim fins/belt, tracking device, compass, GPS, balaclava, touring coats-Other Vessel Needs 3
  • Volunteering for boating safety and rescue work 2013 If you are volunteering and supplying your own Rescue Water Craft, make sure you understand the legalities involved in using your own personal motorized equipment as the legal owner of the boat. You will need to make some minor adjustments to the RWC specifications for securing the compartments, emergency procedures, required Federal Equipment, agency equipment and the use of a Rescue Board. The fuel needs and range, type of fuel and maintenance schedules, age and condition of the vessel are important components of your safety minded approach. You need to understand that your RWC will be damaged or loss in a significant incident and that you are willing to assume that foreseeable risk. Education-Start with the Basics  Physical Fitness Program  Willingness to learn  Basic Boater Education  CPR  Basic First Aid  Navigation with a GPS  Reading Charts  How to use a Compass  How to use a Radio  Pre-Requisite programs required by the volunteer group Water and Weather Knowledge  Seasonal  Tidal  Atmospheric/Water/Land (earthquake)  Natural Disasters and Catastrophic Types of Waterways you would be working near or on  Open waters  Lakes/Ponds  Flood Channels  Irrigation Channels  Ocean/Sea Specific Type of Water Dynamics  Floods 1. Rising Waters 2. Standing Waters 3. Receding Waters  Swiftwater 1. 2 MPH or moving water or higher 2. Types of Classification I-V for RWC Response 3. Hazards known/unknown 4. Temperatures 5. Locations/local knowledge 6. Swiftwater Tech I/II required  Surf Zone 1. Surf Passages 2. Rocks 3. Shoals 4. Shore break 5. Currents  Tsunami 1. Debris 2. Surges 4
  • Volunteering for boating safety and rescue work 2013 3. Currents Maturity-Emotional/Spiritual  Character  Behavior  Accountability  Responsibility  Physical Fitness Maintained Understanding the risks involved  You can get injured  Loss of work due to injury or fatigue  Called away from your occupation/family to respond (availability)  You could possibly lose your life  You may witness the loss of life or be exposed to others grief  You may lose a team mate during training or incidents  You may not be able to help  You may damage equipment or lose it  Operating during daylight or night conditions Join Associations that are relevant to the area of expertise you want to develop  National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) www.SafeBoatingCouncil.org  American Watercraft Association (AWA) www.AWAhq.org  American Red Cross www.RedCross.org  National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) www.NDPA.org  Rescue Water Craft Association https://www.facebook.com/groups/RWCSIA/  National Water Safety Congress (NWSC) www.WaterSafetyCongress.org About Shawn Alladio is the founder of K38 and a world renowned subject matter expert (SME) regarding the recreational and occupational use of personal watercraft (PWC). Shawn is instrumental in the development of many public safety agency, military and State and Nations PWC and RWC development programs and training standards. She has received numerous boating safety awards and has been inducted into the National Safe Boating Council Boating Hall of Fame. She is also a Professional Volunteer. This is not a training aid. Listed are select suggestions that can assist interested persons in asking relevant questions to support them in determining their best course of action and it is not all conclusive to the subject matter. Continue professional development and source materials specific to the team or agency of interest. K38 Website: www.K38Rescue.com K38 Forum: www.K38WaterSafety.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/K38Rescue Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/K38rescue Twitter: https://twitter.com/K38rescue 5
  • Volunteering for boating safety and rescue work 6 2013