Shout – Reach – Throw – Row is a well established protocol across paddlesport safety training but working with some fellow coaches recently (who, by the way, made short work of an all in rescue) we found ourselves asking whether the protocol is always used as fully as it should.
One way of ensuring safe and effective rescues is always to start at the beginning of the protocol and work our way through it systematically and out loud. Translating this from a cognitive model to a physical one means that rather than allowing the brain to skip quickly through the progression and risk missing out one or more step, we speak each of the words in turn and assess our options at each stage.
Taking this approach if, having first secured our group, we say ‘shout’ we can create for ourselves a moment to remember that this is about communication with the person in the water and encouraging them to swim to shore. If we conclude that swimming is not an option then saying to ourselves ‘reach’ invites the question of whether the person in the water is close enough for this to be feasible with any reaching aids that may be to hand. And before we reach, our ‘shout’ has already established that all important communication that we can build on with further explanation of what we want the person in the water to do.
If ‘reach’ isn’t an option, then we say to ourselves ‘throw’ and repeat the process, asking what we have to hand to throw, reminding ourselves that the throwline in the back of our boat might not be the simplest or quickest option and, importantly, that we need to go back to our ‘shout’ to communicate what we are planning and how we want the swimmer to respond.
And so the protocol continues. We’ve shouted, we’ve considered reach and now determined that throw isn’t an effective option either, there’s nothing for it but to say ‘Row’…
Four little words, Shout – Reach – Throw – Row, quickly but consciously said to help ensure we observe that other safety protocol: Self – Team – Victim – Equipment. But that’s a subject for another day.