We were asked to make a presentation on kiteboarder rescue considerations to 29 candidates enrolled in the United States Livesaving Association (USLA) training course being held at on 12/12/12. Lt. Jim McCrady of the USLA and Ft. Lauderdale Ocean Rescue got in touch about putting on the presentation. They had a large turnout for the Academy including lifeguards traveling from Puerto Rico, Missouri, Alabama in addition to participants from throughout Florida.
There were lifeguards in from all over!
The following summarizes some of what was conveyed in the session but certainly not all. Ocean Rescue is a hazardous business goes without saying not only for the folks in need but also for the lifeguards. Thorough training, skill development and regular practice are key in helping to assure rescues go as we would like them to. Kiter rescues are no different and shouldn't be casually undertaken without proper training in rescue along with a thorough kiteboarding orientation to reduce the odds of problems for the one being rescued or the rescuer. The following information is provided to professional lifeguards for discussion and in no way replaces proper training in these procedures.
The class was held at the Breakers Resort on Palm Beach. What a great five star venue for a course like this!
I updated a similar Powerpoint presentation that Gio Serrano of Safety & Rescue Training, LLC (and Ft. Lauderdale Ocean Rescue) prepared and Neil Hutchenson formerly of Tiki Beach and I put on at a USLA National Conference in Cocoa Beach, FL in 2008. So we had a good base to work with.
Going over the Powerpoint presentation in the class
Kiteboarder rescues can be complicated by a kite which can exert high force through wind and wave effects, four 100 ft. sections of high strength line pulling the kiter or drifting around, submerged to tangle and possibly cut further impacted by a potentially impaired or unresponsive kiteboarder and still other factors.
I got in touch with Luke Svanberg, manager of Adventure Sports Ft. Lauderdale about putting on the current presentation. Luke graciously agreed to help out putting on the practical beach exercises dealing with kite landing, QR activation, hands on kite flying (subject to weather) and other considerations. Luke has done similar kiting orientation work with lifeguards in Long Island and Puerto Rico.
The above Powerpoint PPT presentation can be downloaded and video links found
We had also talked about out of control looping kites, what they look like and the problems they can present to both the kiter and rescuers. Here is a video of a loop kite caused when two kites wrapped together. Anything that causes the kite lines to become uneven in length, often a tangle, may result in such looping putting the kiter at significant risk of injury in some instances. The kiter may soon be unable to depower the kite due to twisting of the lines, if he becomes tangled, he may be unable to completely release the kite either. The kite will continue to pull him with varying degrees of speed and violence largely depending on wind conditions until something breaks or the kite otherwise stops moving. It can be a complex dangerous situation to safely resolve. Proper training and preparation are important in short.
We then moved down to the beach.
We setup on the beach south of the hotel but unfortunately in the last hour the wind and clocked offshore and dropped in speed. This severely limited practical kite flying and landing exercises we had planned to conduct. Still the time was put to good use.
Luke is rigging a 2.5 m inflatable trainer and 9 m kite for some hands on work, winds permitting.
Luke maintained a running commentary about rescue points during setup and beyond. We also went over quick releases, what to look for, how to open them, the variability in systems out there today. Luke setup a drill in a pool once with lifeguards swimming over to release all the QR from another kiter lifeguard being rescued.
Going over the correct position to hold a kite during an assisted landing or near the center of the leading edge.
Using a lot of skill and exertion Luke was able to get a kite up and flying for a while despite real light uneven wind shadowed wind. We would have covered assisted landing and kite securing with all the participants individually if useable winds had been on. We also would have had a station for the guards to fly the 2.5 m kite to getting a feeling for the flight and limited power of a traction kite.
Thanks to Lt. Jim McCrady for inviting us to speak, to Luke Svanberg of Adventure Sports Ft. Lauderdale for presenting, Gio Serrano for preparing the original Powerpoint presentation. It is important to note that both Gio and Luke can provide hands on lifeguard orientations to kiter rescue. Their contact information appears below:
Luke Svanberg is manager of this large South Florida watersports retailer location in Ft. Lauderdale. Luke is also a long term kiteboarding instructor with experience in providing orientations to ocean rescue squads. AdventureSportsFtLauderdale can be found on Facebook.
Gio Serrano offers professional training across a broad range of topics to lifeguards and first responders through Safety & Rescue Training, LLC. The level of complexity and information these live saving professionals are required to known is impressive. He is also an active kiteboarder in addition to being a Lieutenant with Ft. Lauderdale Ocean Rescue.
The Academy participants
One of many photos from a nice ten mile sunset roundwinder kiting session last year off the coast here.
More images at: http://www.fksa.org/showthread.php?t=11049