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Old 17-07-2018, 05:45   #1
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Lifting Out MOB Casualty Using Life Jacket Harness

As reported in another thread, we recently did an extensive practice of lifting out MOB victims and getting them on board.


It was a terrifically valuable training (in the icy waters of a Northeastern Iceland fjord!), but revealed one major flaw in the gear -- the built-in harnesses in our life jackets are not up to the job of lifting people out. We broke one of the crotch strap buckles.


In fairness they do warn not to use them for lifting, but in my opinion they are simply not fit for purpose like this.


Short of retrofitting strong buckles to the crotch straps, does anyone have a solution to this issue?


We practiced with our Life Sling in addition to just clipping on to the life jacket harnesses, and this is definitely strong enough, but the Life Sling is is uncomfortable and possibly dangerous. We have in our crew this year a doctor who is a specialist in expedition medicine, who stated that the position the victim is lifted out with using the Life Sling is the most dangerous possible way to do it, possibly leading to heart attacks.



We also tried lifting out using a rope sling under the knees -- this was for the case of an unconscious victim. This worked very well, and took the strain off the crotch strap, but this is a considerable additional complication which would be very undesirable in a real MOB case in bad sea conditions.


Interested in any ideas.
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Old 17-07-2018, 06:14   #2
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Re: Lifting Out MOB Casualty Using Life Jacket Harness

How do the Coast Guard/SAR services lift people out? Other than with a stretcher?


Seems to me you could have a different kind of sling -- with four legs, two under your arms and two behind your knees, and this would be a lot safer and more comfortable. Something like that.
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Old 17-07-2018, 06:32   #3
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Re: Lifting Out MOB Casualty Using Life Jacket Harness

Sorry I didn't read the previous thread but will have to go back and do so. Without that background I'm assuming you refer to a lifejacket with an integral safety harness that one would attach to a tether. If so then I confess I'm a bit confused by the restriction on lifting.

Should not a harness strong enough to hold a person going overboard which can generate heavy shock loads be strong enough to lift that person in a much more static situation? Regardless I think the best solution is one device that will suit both requirements, safety harness and lifting harness. Seems to me this would be the KISS solution to the problem. No extra gear or devices for lifting the MOB into the boat, crew has one device to don that does the whole job.

Without seeing the harnesses you have, based on rigging similar harness setups that include a crotch strap for diving, I would think it would be relatively simple to add or reinforce the harness with a proper crotch strap.
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Old 17-07-2018, 07:01   #4
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Re: Lifting Out MOB Casualty Using Life Jacket Harness

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Sorry I didn't read the previous thread but will have to go back and do so. Without that background I'm assuming you refer to a lifejacket with an integral safety harness that one would attach to a tether. If so then I confess I'm a bit confused by the restriction on lifting.

Should not a harness strong enough to hold a person going overboard which can generate heavy shock loads be strong enough to lift that person in a much more static situation? Regardless I think the best solution is one device that will suit both requirements, safety harness and lifting harness. Seems to me this would be the KISS solution to the problem. No extra gear or devices for lifting the MOB into the boat, crew has one device to don that does the whole job.

Without seeing the harnesses you have, based on rigging similar harness setups that include a crotch strap for diving, I would think it would be relatively simple to add or reinforce the harness with a proper crotch strap.

Concerning the text in your post which I underline -- ABSOLUTELY! It seems insane that they are designed like this -- what is their purpose in life altogether if they can't even lift a person in a "static situation", as you put it?




All the integral harnesses I have seen have crotch straps with delicate plastic buckles. I've never seen one I would be happy to be lifted up the mast on, for example. It's as if the crotch straps are primarily decorative in nature
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Old 17-07-2018, 07:10   #5
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Re: Lifting Out MOB Casualty Using Life Jacket Harness

I always thought that the crotch strap was only there to prevent the PFD from riding up the body when the jacket was inflated and the person in the water. If a person is going overboard, the stress is taken by the D ring and harness webbing around the abdomen.

If a person goes overboard, I don't think the crotch strap is designed to take any of the load, Same with a thigh strap.

At least that's my understanding. Cheers!

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Old 17-07-2018, 07:12   #6
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Re: Lifting Out MOB Casualty Using Life Jacket Harness

The choice seems to 1) leave the MOB in the water where they’ll surely drown or freeze to death, or 2) lift them out... but then they have a chance of having a heart attack. I’d tend to take my chances with opion 2. So how does your doctor friend propose lifting a MOB out of the water?

We don’t have the room onboard for a Coast Guard type lifting stretcher. Maybe all you can do.... is the best you can do.

Regarding the crotch strap, I’m thinking that my drysuit is the best option with a safety harness for both floatation and lifting. Plus I won’t get cold enough to risk option 2.

What broke on the crotch strap, the cheap plastic snap in lock? Would a stainless buckle have held up?
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Old 17-07-2018, 07:13   #7
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Re: Lifting Out MOB Casualty Using Life Jacket Harness

I'm pretty sure the only design purpose for the crotch strap in a standard offshore lifejacket is to prevent the PFD from being stripped off by the vertical loading created by the fall into the sea and the bobbing of the the waves. The integral harness, however, is designed for strong horizontal loads, and would (should) support a MOB recovery if it could be done horizontally. I suspect a crotch strap sturdy enough to support MOB recovery would make for a lifejacket that is so uncomfortable to wear that your MOB would be without one.
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Old 17-07-2018, 07:15   #8
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Re: Lifting Out MOB Casualty Using Life Jacket Harness

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
All the integral harnesses I have seen have crotch straps with delicate plastic buckles. I've never seen one I would be happy to be lifted up the mast on, for example. It's as if the crotch straps are primarily decorative in nature
When I was doing a lot of cave diving I assembled several harnesses that supported over 100 lbs worth of gear. Of course a much smaller load that a marine safety harness but the harnesses were made of 2" wide webbing to distribute the load better and would certainly work for a marine harness. The crotch strap was pretty simple to rig with the 2" webbing.

A sewed loop went around the waist strap in the rear then the strap was lead forward and looped over the waist strap in front, locking with a SS buckle. The buckle is a SS rectangle with two parallel slots running across the width. The strap first feeds through the two slots, then loops over the waist strap then back through the two slots. This allows fairly simple adjustment and I have never had one slip at all even after hours in the water pulling on the crotch strap when using a tow scooter.
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Old 17-07-2018, 07:40   #9
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Re: Lifting Out MOB Casualty Using Life Jacket Harness

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
The choice seems to 1) leave the MOB in the water where they’ll surely drown or freeze to death, or 2) lift them out... but then they have a chance of having a heart attack. I’d tend to take my chances with opion 2. So how does your doctor friend propose lifting a MOB out of the water?

Well, not lifting the person straight out by their shoulders! I was lifted out using the Life Sling yesterday and it sucks! Better than drowning of course, but the worst way of lifting compared to other methods.



I was also lifted out of the water using my life jacket and that is much better (the crotch strap didn't break).



Being lifted out by a climbing harness or bosun's chair would be ideal, but that's not practical.


I am thinking that some kind of sling to get the person more horizontal would be the right approach.






Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
We don’t have the room onboard for a Coast Guard type lifting stretcher. Maybe all you can do.... is the best you can do.

That's what's called a "false dichotomy" -- it's not either life sling or CG stretcher -- there are options in between.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
Regarding the crotch strap, I’m thinking that my drysuit is the best option with a safety harness for both floatation and lifting. Plus I won’t get cold enough to risk option 2.

What broke on the crotch strap, the cheap plastic snap in lock? Would a stainless buckle have held up?

I was surprised at how well I floated in my dry suit, even though I had removed most of the air. In the calm conditions we were in, there was definitely no need for a life jacket. But I think that in rough conditions, the idea of the life jacket is to keep your head above water and give you a chance to breathe (don't forget a spray hood, by the way -- life jacket is not fit for purpose without a spray hood). So i guess it might not be wise to do without the life jacket, at least in rough conditions.



But you could wear a separate harness in any case, even with a life jacket! Seems kind of cumbersome, but a climbing harness would be a total solution to this problem -- total security. If you try it out before we do, please report on your experience.



As to the buckle -- yes, I guess a metal buckle would have held, and perhaps the answer is as simple as changing out the buckle. My bigger life jackets (Seago 275N) have wide padded crotch straps which would be reasonably comfortable to be lifted out on, compared to the narrow straps of the smaller one we were using in our exercise.
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Old 17-07-2018, 07:51   #10
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Re: Lifting Out MOB Casualty Using Life Jacket Harness

This is my nightmare scenario: the skipper falling overboard and me having to try and find him and then get him back on the boat somehow ...

I'm 5'5" and 132 pounds, he's 6'3" and 230 pounds ... plus the boat is a 42' with a pretty high freeboard. I'm thinking there's little chance of me getting him back on the boat unless he's able to actively help himself.

We've had many discussions about MOB situations, and we disagree about the lifeline system (even tethered, he can still fall overboard. I think that's even more dangerous, being dragged against the hull, he feels that just can't be helped and it's saver then not being tethered at all).

We'll be discussing your post for sure, Dockhead -- we always thought we could at least use the buckles on our vests ...
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Old 17-07-2018, 08:23   #11
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Re: Lifting Out MOB Casualty Using Life Jacket Harness

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Well, not lifting the person straight out by their shoulders! I was lifted out using the Life Sling yesterday and it sucks! Better than drowning of course, but the worst way of lifting compared to other methods.
Very interesting. I wondered if your group tried the sling using different methods, i.e. line in front of the body and line in the rear (smooth part of sling across the chest)? If so did it make a difference and did the doctor say anything about one method being better than the other?
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Old 17-07-2018, 08:33   #12
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Re: Lifting Out MOB Casualty Using Life Jacket Harness

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. . . We've had many discussions about MOB situations, and we disagree about the lifeline system (even tethered, he can still fall overboard. I think that's even more dangerous, being dragged against the hull, he feels that just can't be helped and it's saver then not being tethered at all). ...

I also disagree with your husband, and most strongly. Overboard being dragged by a tether is a death sentence, far worse than floating free.



Here is the chapter on that from our boat's safety manual:


"F. MOB PROCEDURE – CASUALTY TETHERED TO THE BOAT.


This is a nightmare scenario because the tether will drag the casualty face-first into the waves, which will drown him in seconds even at low speed. Only instant reactions can save a person who goes overboard still attached to the boat.


1. STOP THE BOAT. By any means whatsoever – every second counts.


At the same time:


2. Simultaneously, another crew cuts the tether with his knife and frees the casualty.


10 | P a g e


Then follow MOB procedure as above, as quickly as possible. The casualty will likely need mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and/or CPR.


If you fall overboard still attached to the boat and somehow have any strength or consciousness, CUT YOURSELF LOOSE IMMEDIATELY using your knife."
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Old 17-07-2018, 08:39   #13
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Re: Lifting Out MOB Casualty Using Life Jacket Harness

Quote:
Originally Posted by syPhilos View Post
. . .I'm 5'5" and 132 pounds, he's 6'3" and 230 pounds ... plus the boat is a 42' with a pretty high freeboard. I'm thinking there's little chance of me getting him back on the boat unless he's able to actively help himself.. . .

If he can attach a shackle to his harness, you can get him out using the methods we have just practiced with.


If he is unconscious and can't get the shackle on, then you've got a pretty big problem. If the sea conditions allow, and if you can hook him with a boat hook, then you might be able to lean over and do it from on board -- very carefully -- depending on your freeboard.


You might be able to use one of those Hook N' Moor boat hooks to put a line on him somehow.


You can't get into the water to help him because you won't be able to get yourself back out -- unless you can rig some kind of self-lifting tackle.


What are the chances that the unconscious person won't be drowned already by the time you do any of this? I don't know.



It's an interesting question and maybe someone else has worked out something which could work, and quickly enough for there to be a chance that the casualty is still alive when you get him back on board.
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Old 17-07-2018, 08:50   #14
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Re: Lifting Out MOB Casualty Using Life Jacket Harness

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
As reported in another thread, we recently did an extensive practice of lifting out MOB victims and getting them on board.


It was a terrifically valuable training (in the icy waters of a Northeastern Iceland fjord!), but revealed one major flaw in the gear -- the built-in harnesses in our life jackets are not up to the job of lifting people out. We broke one of the crotch strap buckles.


In fairness they do warn not to use them for lifting, but in my opinion they are simply not fit for purpose like this.


Short of retrofitting strong buckles to the crotch straps, does anyone have a solution to this issue?


We practiced with our Life Sling in addition to just clipping on to the life jacket harnesses, and this is definitely strong enough, but the Life Sling is is uncomfortable and possibly dangerous. We have in our crew this year a doctor who is a specialist in expedition medicine, who stated that the position the victim is lifted out with using the Life Sling is the most dangerous possible way to do it, possibly leading to heart attacks.



We also tried lifting out using a rope sling under the knees -- this was for the case of an unconscious victim. This worked very well, and took the strain off the crotch strap, but this is a considerable additional complication which would be very undesirable in a real MOB case in bad sea conditions.


Interested in any ideas.
No ideas, but an observation. Catamarans afford added flexibility in a MOB situation in that there is the option of using a power winch to pull the victim horizontally through the water to a sugar scoop (that may even have a flip-down boarding ladder) closer to sea level, rather than vertically hoisting him or her to clear higher topsides.
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Old 17-07-2018, 09:16   #15
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Re: Lifting Out MOB Casualty Using Life Jacket Harness

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No ideas, but an observation. Catamarans afford added flexibility in a MOB situation in that there is the option of using a power winch to pull the victim horizontally through the water to a sugar scoop (that may even have a flip-down boarding ladder) closer to sea level, rather than vertically hoisting him or her to clear higher topsides.

Why would a cat be any different from a mono with a swim platform or a sugar scoop?


I think the "transom hammer effect" would eliminate this in most open sea MOB situations.
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