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I Wasn't Paying Att

"I Wasn't Paying Attention"...Raising Our Awareness of Preventing River Accidents
                                   - Jim Simmons

The classic 'accident equation' developed by Alan Hale applies to all outdoor recreational activities including whitewater boating. The equation conceptualizes two different aspects. If applied to whitewater boating one aspect would represent HUMAN factors such as unsafe boating actions, errors in paddling judgment, and lack of personal preparedness for a trip. A second aspect represents such ENVIRONMENTAL factors as unexpected weather changes, high water, cold conditions, difficult of rapids, and failure to recognize river hazards.

By visualizing side by side circles we can see the possibilities of our actions. Refer to Figure 1 and consider how we can create a double whammy for ourselves if not paying attention. Separately, poor judgment with either aspect can contribute to accidents, however, if the two circles overlap our 'accident potential' increases. Think of a motorist driving across town, traveling faster than the posted speed limit on a busy thoroughfare, talking on the cell phone, CD player blaring, with attention concentrated on something that needs to be done at the office. Any of these individual actions might lead to a fender bender, but taken all together, they're almost forecasting an accident and perhaps a serious one.
Another concept that promotes a proactive attitude of rescue awareness and capability is the Rescue Curve (some call this an Accident Timeline). If a boater gets into trouble the longer she's stuck, trapped or pinned in the river the less her chances of survival. Anytime we take a swim it's always best to self-rescue but if unable to do so, we must count on paddling partners for fast and capable assistance. Such readiness highlights the rescue imperative of developing broad rescue abilities within paddling groups. Awareness of ways to reduce risks is far better than functioning in a basic instinctive, reactive mode when something serious does occur. See figure 2 below.

JS--2/25'08. ACA Instructor, Jim Jones, contributed to this discussion.
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