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Transcript for Planning for Water Rescue

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Narrator: Water rescue is high risk and low frequency. That is why planning for water rescue is so important. Without proper planning, a first responder arriving on the scene will be unprepared to deal with the complexities of a water rescue operation.

The authority having jurisdiction must develop Standard Operational Guidelines [SOGs] for their team. The SOGs must be practiced, reviewed, evaluated, and updated. Factors to consider when planning include:

  • Identifying and training the necessary personnel
  • Developing standardized accountability systems to track personnel
  • Equipping personnel with personal protective equipment and the water rescue tools to accomplish the mission
  • Training personnel and water rescue—at a minimum, everyone in the organization must be trained at the awareness level
  • Surveying and preplanning for potential rescue sites within the organization’s operational jurisdiction
  • Preparing for difficult site access due to flooded roadways, weather, night operations, and rugged, remote terrain
  • Establishing standardized communication guidelines for hand, whistle, radio, phone, and night operations
  • Having mutual aid agreements in place
  • Identifying hot, warm, and cold zones at a water rescue incident
  • Developing response guideline procedures for multiple incidents occurring at the same time
  • Following the rescue sequence from the safest to the most dangerous water rescue tactics
  • Establishing guidelines for rescue versus recovery operations
  • Being proactive and working with the community to promote water safety education and awareness

When an organization focuses on planning and practice, the rescuers can be prepared for the dangers and difficulties associated with water rescue.

On screen: For more information contact:
Boating and Watercraft Safety Manager
PA Fish and Boat Commission
1601 Elmerton Ave. - PO Box 67000
Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000
ph: (717) 705-7841
Visit us on the web at:

Copyright: PA Fish and Boat Commission
Video by: Chris A. Calhoun

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