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Old 31-10-2008, 15:56   #1
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Rescue Swimmers (USCG) - Yikes!

Didn't want to derail the other thread, but Vasco's post reminded me of a question I had about US Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers........

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Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
I really admire those guys in the choppers that jump into the raging ocean to try and save people. They do an amazing job.
..........Why do they jump out of Helicopters to rescue people? and are they the only CG service that does that sort of thing?

To me seems way too dangerous for both the CG swimmer and the rescuee - but I figure their must be some thinking behind it.
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Old 31-10-2008, 16:15   #2
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They don't jump if they're going to the deck of a large ship, but with small boats or people in the water, it's the most efficient way to get the rescue technician to the distress. Especially with small sailboats the helo doesn't want the hoist gear to get fouled in the boat's rigging; but also the downwash from the rotors can cause more harm than good by whipping up spray and exacerbating hypothermia. It's preferable for the swimmer to go to the casualty then bring the helo in only when the casualty is ready to be hoisted. Static electricity can also be a problem if you teabag the rescuer.


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Old 31-10-2008, 16:33   #3
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All sounds kinda reasonable - but (as far as I know) it doesn't happen that way in the UK (or France).....not saying one is better than the other......
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Old 31-10-2008, 16:52   #4
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Air/Sea rescue in Canada is the purvue of the Department of National Defence. Cdn Coast Guard helo's aren't equipped with hoists. As far as I know DnD will only put swimmers in the water when absolutely necessary preferring to lower SarTech's to the deck of a ship or boat. CCG has only 1 unit (as far as I know) equipped with divers primarily for recovery operations. They're based on the hovercraft in Vancouver.

I took the Cdn DnD clearance diver training back in the early '80's and it damn near killed me!
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Old 31-10-2008, 18:49   #5
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I don't know for sure but I suspect this technique evolved from USA major involvement in carrier aircraft rescue. The pilot of a water downed plane is in heavy gear and often injured and needs a swimmer is my guess.
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Old 31-10-2008, 18:57   #6
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Cant remember the name of the movie but is a good one..Stars Nicolas Cage.
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Old 31-10-2008, 18:58   #7
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The Air National Guard out of New Jersey has para-rescue swimmers....You can read about them in "The Perfect Storm"
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Old 31-10-2008, 19:18   #8
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I was wrong

It was Kevin Costner...in Guardian.
I always get thoes two mixed up.


If you have never seen it I highly recommend it.

Oh..one of my best buds runs the Maintenance contractors on the base in Kodiak where a lot of it was filmed.
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Old 31-10-2008, 21:43   #9
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Navy Seals jump out of helo's but for different reasons. The Air Force, "PJs" have rescue swimmers.
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Old 01-11-2008, 06:47   #10
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Good video here:
Rescuer talks about getting shocked by static build-up. And around 2:30 there's a rescue swimmer jumping from the helo. So Aussies do it too.

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Old 01-11-2008, 09:19   #11
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When I was in the US Navy one of the things I qualified for was 'pilot rescue swimmer'. When there are flight ops on carriers whether fleet or amphib, another ship trails the carrier doing what's called plane guard duty. These ships must have a quota of qualified 'Pilot rescue swimmers' to do the actual rescue should a plane or helo go down. On my ship we would have gone out in a small boat.

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Old 01-11-2008, 11:58   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eyschulman View Post
I don't know for sure but I suspect this technique evolved from USA major involvement in carrier aircraft rescue. The pilot of a water downed plane is in heavy gear and often injured and needs a swimmer is my guess.
BINGO.
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Old 02-11-2008, 20:14   #13
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My understanding is that USCG Rescue Swimmers usually don't "jump" from the helicopter. Typically they are lowered into the water using the hoist. Then, depending on the situation they may detach from the hoist, and help people into the rescue basket. The method was derived from that used by the Navy for pilot rescue, although now I believe the USCG has greatly refined and enhanced the technique. They do it because all too often, people in the water or in rafts are hypothermic and/or injured, and not able to get into the basket themselves.

A good book that describes the history and has many real life examples is "So Others May Live" by Martha LaGuardia-Kotite. Another good read about one of the most harrowing helicopter swimmer rescues is "Coming Back Alive" by Spike Walker. These USCG swimmers and their helicopter crews are exceptionally tough and brave men and women. A lot of people owe their lives to them.
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Old 03-11-2008, 01:17   #14
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The UK's search and rescue helicopters lower a man down on the wire.

When dealing with sailing boat masts, they often use a technique known as "Hi-Line". I understand the procedure goes like this.

Helicopter stands off the casualty, usually on the port side as it makes life easier for the pilot.

A light weight line is lowered to the casualty, who's crew coil it down, a bucket is recommended to prevent tangles. The winch man is lowered down and is pulled in towards the casualty, whilst the helicopter keeps a safe distance away.

The rescue is then carried out. If lots of people need rescuing, there is a great time saving as the casualty and the helicopter remain connected. Should major problems arise, the Hi-Line has a weak link so the helicopter is not endangered.
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Old 03-11-2008, 02:27   #15
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The USCG Helicopter Rescue Swimmer Operations Manual includes lessons in eight different water deployment procedures; 11 ways to approach, carry and release a survivor; seven ways to release equipment for Navy and Air Force flyers; and ways to detangle the services' different parachutes and backpacks.

COAST GUARD HELICOPTER RESCUE SWIMMER MANUAL
http://www.uscg.mil/directives/cim/3...IM_3710_4B.pdf

The Coast Guard presents their Top Ten Rescue Videos of 2007:
The Coast Guard Channel: Viewer Contributed Video
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