Thursday, December 17, 2015

Keep Your Arms Down

Crotch straps on harnesses and PFDs are all the rage with the safety set. Yes, you can always worm out of the chest-only harness. On the other hand...
  • They are bloody uncomfortable and falling will be bad.
  • Horse collars have been used for lifting for years.
  • Rock climbers used chest harnesses in years gone by; although there were injuries, falling out of the harness was not the problem.
Why did they work for climbers and continue to work for rescue? Because they keep their elbows down! Why do they not work so well for sailors? Because stupid, panicked people reach for the rope, which is the very last thing you should reach for. The higher you reach, the more your shoulders move together, allowing you to slide out--a perfect case of instinct over ruling the most basic common sense. Wearing a harness to loose (for comfort) over foul weather gear only makes the situation worse. It works for climbers because they are trained never to reach for the rope when falling and they fit the harness correctly. It works in rescue because the swimmer controls the situation: notice how the rescue swimmer holds the mans arms down.  Additionally, the survivor is always instructed not to help in entering the helicopter. while there are many reason, the primary is that the survivor can easily raise his arms to help, without thinking, and fall out.


Reading instructions also helps: notice the arm position.

So if you know you are going over the side, or if you are being collected by Lifesling or horse collar, keep you elbows down!

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