Here are some sample accident scenarios. Read each one and analyze it to determine the following:
Write your analysis down and then check the answer page to see how you did.
Its been raining steadily for several days. The rivers are rising, and local boaters are getting itchy. After all, its been a long winter and the promise of rising water and rising temperature is too good to miss. Sarah feels it. Shes a good Class IV kayaker, 29 years old, physically strong. Shes a little out of shape after the winter off, but shes itching to get back on the river. One of her paddling partners calls Friday night and says, "tomorrow morning: season opener." Excited, Sarah starts digging her gear out of the closet.
The next morning, Sarah meets her four friends at the put-in. Its a Class III run they know well--a good place to warm up for the spring season. The river is higher than usual with the rain--by about a foot and a half. The water has that muddy brown color and touches the treeline, inundating most of the familiar eddies. After a careful look, they decide to make their run. The group starts to work its way down the entrance rapids generally aware of where everyone is.
After a mile, the group settles in to a paddling pace. Sarah stops to surf her favorite hole, the rest of the group continues around the bend because there are so few eddies where they can stop and watch. The hole is grabby in the high water. Sarah does a few spins and then moves to exit the hole, but gets pulled back in to the deep trough. She tries to get her bow out into the current to pull herself out, but drops back in and flips. She rolls back up but then flips over again. After three more rolls Sarah is exhausted and comes out of her boat. Before she can recover from the initial shock of the cold water, Sarah and her kayak flush out of the hole.
The current pushes Sarah and her boat toward a fallen tree at the outside bend of a turn. The water is too swift for her to swim away. She turns and swims toward the strainer and manages to pull herself up onto it. She watches her paddle and swamped kayak disappear around the bend. When the others see the boat, they quickly take out and work their way back upstream through the flooded shoreline to retrieve Sarah, shaken but unharmed, from the tree.
John was introduced to sea kayaking about a year ago at a symposium sponsored by a local outfitter. Looking for a new sport John bought a kayak, paddle, spray skirt and life jacket. He taught himself to paddle on a nearby lake. Except for what he gleaned from a few books, he doesn't have any formal training. His most adventurous trips have been two six-mile paddles out on the bay on calm days.
John met someone at work who kayaks with a local club. She tells him the club is having a coastal trip next weekend. Its a 3 1/2 mile crossing to a small island where theyd have lunch, explore some tidal pools, and come back. John agrees, excited about his first "real" paddling trip.
John spends the next few evenings on the lake practicing his strokes and braces on power boat wakes. He buys a flashing signal light for his life jacket, and a whistle, but the paddling shop was out of float bags, so hell have to do without.
When John arrives at the put-in the wind has started to kick up. The 3-foot waves are crashing on the gravel beach. John sees his friend among huddle of people and joins her. After introductions, people wander back to their cars to get their gear. Most people pull on dry tops or wetsuits. John pulls a paddle jacket over his wool sweater and carries his boat to the water.
After several attempts at getting off the beach, John manages to pick his way through the surf and into deeper water. He is paddling hard to catch up with the rest of the group when a wave crests over his stern. Before he can really think, John leans away from the wave on a brace. His paddle sinks and hes over. The sudden cold water on his face makes John panicky. He struggles out of his boat and pops up beside it, holding on to the grab loop and his paddle. He blows his whistle and the group quickly responds. But the cold water and the wind have taken their toll, and by the time John is back in his boat, hes shivering violently. The group guides him back into shore to get warm.
Sally is leading a group of ninth graders on the schools annual 4-day wilderness trip. This is Sallys fourth such trip. Dan the other teacher from the school is new this year and doesnt have any backpacking experience. But its hard to find teachers at the school who are willing to go. Dan is young and a good athlete and seems to be learning quickly.
Its early September in the Shenandoahs and the group of 8 students and two teachers has started their second day of hiking. The temperature has soared up to the nineties with humidity around 80%. The group slept in and cooked pancakes so they got a late start on the trail. After a 2 mile hike, the group stops for lunch. Sally notices cumulus clouds starting to build. Its already after one and eager to get on to camp, they finish lunch quickly and head off for a long descent down Little Devils Staircase, a ledgy section of rock trail along a stream gorge. The upper section is dry and the rock is slick and polished. As the afternoon progresses, the group is moving more slowly down the gorge. The smaller students are having trouble handling the steep sections with their packs one once or twice Dan has had to take a students pack as well as his own over the difficult sections. The clouds have now become thick thunderheads and the sky is darkening. They still havent reached the bottom trail. The wind is picking up and large raindrops are spattering here and there on the rocks. Suddenly the sky opens up and the rain is falling in torrents. Dan while carrying a students pack, slips on the wet polished rock and falls backwards striking his head sharply against a boulder. The student next to Dan screams. Sally is at at the front, picking her way down the trail when she hears the scream. She drops her pack and scrambles up to Dan who is unresponsive when she first arrives. She quickly checks for breathing and pulse and then Dan starts to open his eyes.
This page is maintained by Rick Curtis Director, Outdoor Action Program. Rcurtis@.princeton.edu
This article is written by Rick Curtis, Director, Outdoor Action Program. This material may be freely distributed for nonprofit educational use. However, if included in publications, written or electronic, attributions must be made to the author. Commercial use of this material is prohibited without express written permission from the author. Copyright © 1995 Rick Curtis, Outdoor Action Program, Princeton University.