Rescue cans are floats made of hard plastic, with handles molded into the sides and rear. The rescue can is attached to a line and harness which is worn by the lifeguard.
The rescue can is the basic tool of the ocean lifeguard. While it is always optimal to have one floatation device for each victim, if necessary, a rescue can is able to support more than one victim, depending on the condition of the victims and the water. A rescue can shall be carried by every ocean lifeguard at all times when leaving the tower.
While working in a tower, a lifeguard will place the rescue can in the designated location. When leaving the tower for any reason, the lifeguard shall take the can. The absence of the rescue can from its rack or hook may be the only way a lifeguard in an adjacent tower will know the lifeguard assigned to a tower is not there.
When making a rescue, the lifeguard runs with the rescue can to the point chosen to enter the water. Before entering the water, the rescue can's shoulder strap is slipped over the lifeguard's head and diagonally across the chest, in a manner that allows the rescue can to trail on the lifeguard's breathing side.
When entering the water, the lifeguard should drop the can, letting it trail behind while running. When approaching the victim, the lifeguard should reassure the person that help is coming. When within four or five feet of the victim, stop and push the can toward the victim, instructing them to take hold of the can. The lifeguard should remain out of the victim's reach to avoid being attacked by a panicky or hysterical victim. Once the victim is calmed down, and has confidence in the ability of the can to float them, the lifeguard is ready to begin the return to the beach.
Care of the plastic can is minimal, but you should check the can, line, and shoulder strap to see if there are any signs of excess wear or cuts. Should there be such signs, request a new can.
Foam rubber tubes, located in main stations and rescue units, are ideal for rescuing single victims. The tube can be fastened around the victim's torso, and is particularly effective in large surf, or for unconscious victims. The tube, because of its soft exterior, is also ideal for use on the Baywatch, or when using a rescue board.
In using the tube, fasten the tube around the victim with the clasp behind the person. When used with an unconscious person, the lifeguard should secure the tube around the victim and use the cross chest method of swimming the person to shore. A very large victim may remain securely in the tube without being held in a cross-chest carry, but the lifeguard must be very careful not to lose the victim, especially in the surf. When needed, the rescue tube can be used without fastening it around the victim. However, when it is used in the same manner as a rescue can, the lifeguard must be aware that the victim may lose his grip on the rubber surface.
The tube should be stored in an elongated position. If it is stored in a folded position, the rubber will deteriorate. While stored, the line should not be wrapped around the tube. Before using the tube, the lifeguard should check the line for wear and the clasp for corrosion.
A boat tow is a twelve-foot length of one quarter inch diameter polypropyline line with a snap hook attached to each end.
A boat tow is located in each tower, main station, and in all emergency vehicles. The line should be used if a boat is in distress about to come ashore.
After calling Headquarters and requesting the Call Car and the Baywatch, run to a spot near the boat. Secure the boat tow line to the plastic rescue can by placing one snap through the handle and hooking it back on the line. Swim out through the surf to one side of the boat. If there is a lateral current, start up current from the boat. If the boat should be caught in a wave, you must be out of its path. Wear swim fins, if available.
If the boat has an engine, tell the operator NOT TO START THE ENGINE before you attach the line. Instruct passengers on the boat to put on lifejackets. Attach the boat tow line to the boat as low on the bow as possible, and begin towing it away from shore. Many small boats have an "eyehook" on the bow that can be used to hook onto.
In caring for the boat tow line, you should check the hooks daily to make sure they have not corroded shut. Spray the hooks with a rust preventative on a regular basis to eliminate corrosion.
Swim fins, worn either singularly or in pairs, are especially useful to the lifeguard in several situations, such as large surf or strong rip currents. Fins are also useful in long-distance or multiple victim situations. To use fins in a rescue situation, the fins should be carried until the lifeguard reaches swimming depth, at which point they should be put on.
Personal experience, including the training you receive in the Academy, will assist you in choosing from the many different styles available.
Rescue boards are kept at main stations and on each emergency vehicle, and should always be used in conjunction with a rescue tube or can (a tube is preferred). Because of a rescue board's speed and buoyancy, it is a fine rescue tool in certain situations, such as:
In considering the board's use, the lifeguard must calculate the length of time it will take to carry the board to the water and paddle to the victim, versus running and swimming to the victim. The lifeguard must also consider the size and shape of the surf and his own ability in deciding whether the board will be more effective and expedient.
It is inadvisable to use the rescue board on short rescues within the surfline, on rescues where it will have to be carried a long distance along the sand before entering the water, or on rescues where large surf may cause the rescue board to become a hazard to both the lifeguard and the victim.
When using the board for patrolling, or for safety in ocean swims, rechecks, events, etc., the board should not be used for surfing. The boards on the emergency vehicles shall remain there unless needed for rescue work.
Care is a must for a board. The board shall be kept in waxed or "non skid" treated condition. Report any holes or cracks in the fiberglass spotted during your daily inspection of the board. Water will seep through cracks and ruin the board.
You can prevent injuries to yourself and others by placing the board in a position where it will not fall. On emergency vehicles, the board should be mounted with the fin pointing up, and the tail of the board over the rear of the vehicle.
Use of the rescue board involves getting the board to the water, placing it in the water, getting on it, taking it through the surf and effecting the rescue. First, get the board to the water's edge. Here, the guard grips the board under their arm at the mid point of the board. With the nose headed forward and the fin pointing inward towards the guard, run towards the rescue into knee deep water.
The board is placed on the water with the fin pointed down and the nose headed into the oncoming surf. The lifeguard mounts the board by placing their hands on the rails (sides) at the mid section of the board and then sliding their body onto the board in a prone (flat) position. The lifeguard should balance their weight on the board so that the nose of the board is raised slightly above the surface of the water. The nose should always be kept headed into the oncoming surf.
The board is propelled by a butterfly or freestyle arm stroke motion. If they have the necessary skills, the paddler may elect to move to a kneeling position after gaining momentum. Spreading the legs apart when prone paddling will provide greater stability.
There are many methods for taking a board through the surf. Your technique will be determined by your experience, ability, and the ocean conditions. Regardless of the method utilized, one rule always applies; keep the nose of the board headed into the waves. This will keep the board in a streamlined position, and lessen the chances for the surf or whitewater to catch the board, forcing it back to the beach or into the lifeguard, possibly causing injury. In small surf, a paddler can paddle over most waves. As the wave size increases, the paddler may have to raise their body off the board by doing a push up, allowing the surf's foam to pass between the paddler's body and the board. In large surf, the paddler may have to "turtle" the board, rolling the board over while clinging upside down to the top until the wave has passed and then roll right side up. If the board is equipped with straps, use them when rolling and continue to paddle out.
If the victim is conscious, assist them in getting onto the board, and have them lay prone in front of you. Instruct them to hold on tightly as you return to shore. If the victim is unconscious, you will probably need to dismount. Position the board between yourself and the victim, and use the board as leverage to slide the victim onto the board. Keep the nose of the rescue board headed toward shore and in a position perpendicular (90 degrees) to the incoming waves. If the board is not kept at a 90-degree angle to the waves, it will capsize the lifeguard and the victim.
Paddle the victim directly to shore if conditions permit. Upon reaching shore, steady the board by placing your legs over the rails and holding onto the victim's legs. Get off the board while maintaining control of both the board and the victim. If the victim is unconscious or exhausted, kneel down and slide your hands under the victim's armpits. Roll the victim off the board quickly to avoid injury from the loose board. Stand up and support the victim against your chest and move to a suitable location for assessment.
If the conditions will make it difficult to return the victim to shore on the board, let the board loose, downwind or downcurrent, so it does not interfere with the rescue. Return your victim to shore as you would in completing a standard swimming rescue.