When rescuing a victim in water, the rescuer has to consider many things in a very short period of time. The rescuer first must know the condition of the victim, whether he/she is unconscious, or just a tired swimmer. The process hastens depending on the state of the victim. Unconscious and drowning victims need rescuing sooner than tired swimmers do. The water depth, clarity, and obstacles in the water must be assessed, and the rescuer must find a safe place to get out of the water. Clothing can be removed if necessary to increase speed. Both the rescuer and the victim must be safe in the rescuer’s plan. Bring a Personal floatation device (PFD) or two with you. These include shirts, jeans, towels, swimming noodles, and life jackets.
The rescuer also needs to enter the water in a safe and effective manner. The first entry is the beach entry. The beach entry is a running entry into the water that converts to swimming when the water reaches waist height. If the area is to steep or uneven to run into safely, then the ease-in entry is the best entry. All this really is is just easing one’s self into the water. If the area is a dock, then either the leaping entry or the feet-first entry is suitable. The leaping entry is a long jump into water at least five feet deep. When one enters the water, he/she must scissor kick with the legs and slam down with the arms simultaneously to keep their head above the water. The feet-first entry is for deep water with an entry point 5 feet or less above the surface.
Generally for most rescues a breaststroke or sidestroke is recommended due to the fact that most drowning victims aren’t far from the shore and both strokes are relatively fast. If the victim is in immediate need of help and is far from the shore, a crawl is recommended for its speed. Many times the victim is a tired swimmer and needs a little confidence to get to the shore. The victim in this case generally holds a PFD and controls it. The victim should always be told what the rescuers intention is and what the victim should do in short, clear phrases. Unconscious victims may either be towed by using a wrist tow or an armpit tow depending on what side of the body faces the shore. There are a few general rules that a rescuer shouldn’t do. One is never dive into the water. Another is to stay with the victim at all times until professional help arrives to treat he victim’s medical condition if he/she has one, such as hypothermia. When professional help arrives, one is free to leave but he/she may stay if she wants unless told otherwise.