Class II Carnage:  Why Novices Need Rescue Skills

By Paul Moyle.

Are you one of the “mild ones” of TVCC?  Do you prefer the relaxing ebb and flow of the Hiwassee and Nantahala Rivers to the exhilarating surge of the Ocoee?  If you answered yes to either of these questions, TVCC’s Team Safety wants to see YOU at its next Rescue Rodeo!  (learn about it right here on the Team Safety page).

When most paddlers think of river rescue, they envision gnarly rapids and complex mechanical advantage rope systems.   But, the truth is, of all the swift water rescue training I have received over the years (including swift water rescue instructor certification), I find myself using the “basic,” rescue techniques most often:  bulldozing a swamped boat, towing a swimmer, and recovering paddles.  What these techniques all have in common is that I first learned of them at TVCC’s Rescue Rodeo when all I dared to paddle was the Hiwassee River.   Moreover, I most often put these rescue skills to use on Class II runs.

In just the last year, I have helped a couple of tubers get out of a strainer on the Hiwassee; I rescued a kid whose duckie was caught in the undercut rock on the Nantahala; and, most recently, I unpinned a recreational kayak complete with an attached throw rope which was creating a downstream entanglement hazard on the Hiwassee.  None of these runs would be considered, “gnarly,” but they each posed genuine hazards to life and limb.  Had I not possessed a basic knowledge of safe and effective rescue techniques, things could have gone very bad, very fast.  All on Class I and II rivers; all safely resolved using skills I first learned at TVCC’s Rescue Rodeo.

If you are a novice paddler, I encourage you to join us at Rescue Rodeo, held each July (usually last Saturday of the month). Check the TVCC Events calendar for this year’s date.   Attending will make you more confident on the river and a better buddy to your fellow river crew.  Trust in each other is a vital component of white water paddling.   TVCC will even give you a FREE throw rope at “Graduation.”  Why do we do this?  Because we realize that you, the “mild ones,” may find yourself in the best position to save a life.  That life may not be your TVCC buddy, maybe just a another lover of paddling that got caught having a bad day.  Your Rescue Rodeo skills saved their life!