The Eight steps for a Swimming Rescue

A swimming or going rescue is one of the most dangerous rescues that can be performed. Many rescuers have drowned because they were caught by the person they were supposed to rescue. There are eight steps that take place within seconds in the mind of the rescuer. These are listed below.

  1. Assessment. You need to assess the water for depth, in order to decide how to enter the water, for current to decide where and how you need to swim, for obstacles, to know how to surmount them, for temperature, what gear you need and if the person you are rescuing is in danger of hypothermia.
  2. Equipment. Find a rescue aid (e.g. life jacket, surfboard, inner tube, a shirt or even a beach mat) and attach it to yourself with a rope.
  3. Entry. Based on your assessment, decide how to enter the water; if you need to walk in, dive in feet or head first, etc.
  4. Approach. Keep your eyes on the person who you are rescuing if possible, the breaststroke is one of the best strokes for keeping your eyes on the person. Encourage the person as you are swimming. Reserve as much energy as possible for the return trip.
  5. Ready Position. Stop to reevaluate the situation 6-10 feet away. Back up if approached by the panicking person.
  6. Assist. Determine how to rescue the person. Offer the rescue aid and avoid contact if possible. Give simple instructions on how best to get the person and yourself back to shore safely.
  7. Landing. Direct the person to shore if he is able to make it himself, if not, assist him. Help the person out of the water.
  8. Aftercare. Verify that EMS (Emergency Medical Services) has been called and that it is on the way. Treat the person for shock or hypothermia and perform CPR if necessary.

So, remember that the person who is in the water and needs help, has about 20-60 seconds before he submerges. So be quick, efficient and by all means ask for help if you feel you are inadequate or let someone else do the job if he is more trained than you are. Don’t let want for personal victory get in your way. Remember, the life of a person is in your hands.


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