EMERGENCY SERVICES AND FIRST AID

SWIMMERS:

If you become distressed in any way, raise one hand above head to alert your paddler, skipper and emergency boats.

Rescue procedures during event:

Immediate rescue will be performed by your kayaker between the 500m mark and the 1km mark where swimmers will meet up with their support boat. Immediate support will be provided by Race co-ordinator during the first 1000m of the event using the two support boats in the event. One boat will have a Doctor on board

During the event between the 1000m mark from the start and the 1000m mark from the finish the skipper is ultimately responsible for the immediate rescue and then inform the event safety co-ordinator.

The overarching Emergency procedure for the Palm Beach to shelly beach swim is as follows:

  1. NSW Marine Rescue identifies a problem or accepts radio call for assistance
  2. NSW Marine Rescue take a course of action (e.g. direct resources to deal with it, or contact Water Police)
  3. NSW Marine Rescue advises the Palm Beach to Shelly Beach Race Director of the incident and action
  4. Race Director advises of any changes
  5. Refer to incident Response Chart

Please note VHF, HF and 27 MHz marine radio services are available for the safety of boaters in NSW waters.

Support Boat Radio Communications Chart

All Traffic use 77VHF, emergencies and mayday calls channel 16

Mayday or Pan Pan calls only. Urgent messages such as a swimmer requiring medical assistance of any kind.

General Traffic includes calls to locate a swimmer, breakdown and general announcements from the Race Day Emergency Team (navigation warning etc.)

NB: Non-race related urgent message/emergencies to NSW Marine Rescue: VHF Channel 16

SWIMMER EMERGENCY Requiring EMERGENCY on water assistance for missing
swimmer, drowning, severe hypothermia, injury from boat, heart attack  
RADIO CALL Palm Beach to Shelly Beach SWIM BASE VHF CHANNEL 77 “Pan-Pan, Pan-Pan, Pan-Pan! Our position is …Our emergency is…” Then communicate your race number, boat registration number, and follow instructions
ASSISTANCE REQUIRED Swimmer withdrawals, misplaced swimmer, suspected hypothermia, injury illness advice, and all other boating communication RADIO CALL Palm Beach to Shelly Beach SWIM BASE VHF CHANNEL 77 “Palm Beach to Shelly Beach base, this is Palm Beach to Shelly Beach swim race number…” State your issue / ask question and listen for instructions.
VESSEL EMERGENCY Requiring EMERGENCY on water assistance for boat sinking, fire or other major incident RADIO CALL Palm Beach to Shelly Beach SWIM BASE VHF CHANNEL 77 “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday! Our position is …Our emergency is…” Then communicate your race number, boat registration number, and follow instructions
SHARK SIGHTING   RADIO CALL Palm Beach to Shelly Beach SWIM BASE VHF CHANNEL 77 State details of the sighting, your approximate location on the swim course (or GPS), and listen for instructions
SHARK ATTACK   RADIO CALL Palm Beach to Shelly Beach SWIM BASE VHF CHANNEL 77 “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday!” Our position is …Our emergency is…” Then communicate your race number, boat registration number, and follow instructions

Preparing for emergency situations. You need to:

  • Clearly display your race number boat stickers on both sides of your support boat and paddle craft. If you have a tender, put one sticker on the tender and one on the paddle craft.
  • Ensure your radio is on and working, with volume turned up to ensure emergency vessels can contact you
  • Have provisions for seasickness and procedures for treatment of swimmers and support crew
  • Pack first aid supplies for all emergencies, including sunburn, dehydration, mild hypothermia and stingers
  • Ensure adequate food and fluids, including warm water
  • Refer to your skipper lanyards for further information

Mayday emergency (boat sinking or on fire)

A Mayday emergency is one in which the support boat is in grave and imminent danger requiring immediate action to isolate, control and eliminate dangers and may require immediate rescue. The support boat skipper is instructed that when they become aware of the situation, to signal “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday!” via the VHF channel 77 and then communicate their position and race number. This will be relayed to emergency vessels, which will respond

Fire emergency procedures embrace three essential requirements. In most cases they will be initiated concurrently.

They are as follows:

  • Ensure the safety of the of all support crew and swimmers
  • If there are unnecessary risks associated with attempts to control the fire, with everyone from the support boat
  • Evacuate the area

Pan-pan emergency (vessel at risk or person at risk)

A pan-pan emergency is one in which there is an urgent message to transmit concerning the safety of a support boat or the safety of a person (e.g. person overbroad, mechanical breakdown or medical emergency).

Support crew are instructed, that when they are aware of this situation, to signal “Pan-pan, Pan-pan, Pan-pan!”) via the VHF channel 77 and then communicate their position and race number. This will be relayed to emergency vessels, which will respond with assistance.

Missing swimmer and/or support crew

A misplaced swimmer and or support crew should only remain in the displaced phase for 10 minutes from the time Palm Beach to Shelly Beach Swim base is notified. After this time a misplaced swimmer and or support crew become a missing swimmer or support crew Support crew are instructed, to signal “Pan-pan, Pan-pan, Pan-pan!”) via the VHF channel 77 and then communicate their position and race number. This will be relayed to emergency vessels, which will respond with assistance.

Gathering information of a missing swimmer or support crew helps narrow the field of search. Important information includes description and condition of swimmer, support boats and or paddlers, last time seen, last seen location and last-confirmed location.

Emergency evacuation procedures

Initially, this will be coordinated by the race organiser support vessel with advice from Marine rescue. There are two main evacuation points, the first at the start of the swim on the other side of Palm Beach. The other evacuation point is at Manly Wharf. There is a boat ramp on the course at Fishermans beach Long reef boat ramp. There are two  “apps” that can be used as a reference: Deckee and Boatable.

Shark Sighting Procedures

  • In the case of a shark sighting, paddlers and team swimmers must leave the water within a 1km radius of the sighting.
  • Vessels are to remain in their location until the Race Director advises it is safe for swimmers and paddlers in that zone to re-enter the water and continue with the event without disqualification.
  • Solo swimmers can remain in the water but do so at their own risk. If they exit the water, their swim will be regarded as abandoned / aborted in line with WOWSA rules, and will not be recorded as an official solo crossing.
  • If the solo swimmer chooses to stay in the water, the swimmer and support boat must remain stationary until the Race Director declares the zone clear and the race back underway.

First Aid assistance may be required during the event: Resuscitation

Basic life support flow:

  • Check for danger- hazard risks safety
  • Is person responsive or unconscious?
  • Call for assistance
  • Open and clear AIRWAYS – CHECK FOR SIGNS OF LIFE
  • Give two breaths if not breathing normally
  • Give 30 chest compressions (almost two per second) followed by two breaths and repeat until help arrives.
  • Defibrillation-attach AED as soon as available, turn on and follow prompts (AED = Automatic External Defibrillation)
  • Continue CPR until qualified personnel arrive or signs of life return
  • Patient revival, place in recovery position, keep them warm, keep talking to them and monitor their well-being.
  • (*no signs of life = unconscious, unresponsive, not breathing normally, not moving.)


Hypothermia

Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. This may be due to cold temperatures or a lack of food intake to help regulate temperature

  • Shivering, cold, pale, and dry skin
  • Tiredness, confusion, and irrational behaviour
  • Slow and shallow breathing
  • Slow and weakening pulse
  • Refusing food or drinks during swim might be a sign something is wrong
  • KNOW WHAT TO DO- KEEP THEM WARM

First aid

• In case of suspected hypothermia,

Radio call the Palm Beach to Shelly Beach Swim base on VHF Channel 77 and request urgent medical aid and await instructions and directions. You may be advised to return to the mainland. Most likely Manly wharf will be the closest drop off but this is subject to Swim Director co-ordination.

Secondary drowning

“Secondary drowning” is a non-medical term used to refer to delayed symptoms that are experienced after a person has been in water. It is a rare problem. Symptoms of secondary drowning may begin up to 24 hours after water exposure. They include: constant coughing, chest pain, breathing problems, decreased energy, fatigue and change in behaviour.

Prevention: Observing the person immediately following the negative incident or accident with water is crucial.

Monitor the person’s breathing. Difficulty breathing, painful breathing or shallow breathing are all red flags that may indicate a person is at risk for a dry drowning episode. Count the number of respirations for 15 seconds and multiply by 4. Over 20 respirations per minute could be a red flag for dry drowning. Check for persistent cough, pain in chest and mood or mental status change. Lethargy or increased agitation when lying flat, sweaty skin or colour changes such as pale, or blue/greyish colour are signs of poorly oxygenated blood.

Treatment:

Treatment involves supplying oxygen to the lungs. Consult a Doctor

Swimming-induced pulmonary oedema (SIPE) or immersion pulmonary oedema

This has been documented during English channel swims usually involving a swimmer wearing a wetsuit, in particular a tight wetsuit. It is also associated with colder water, longer swims. All swimmers must be observed for this condition, it is a life threatening condition. If a swimmer develops breathing difficulties, then remove them from the water ASAP. Request medical assistance.

Seasickness

Explanation: a form of motion sickness characterized by a feeling of nausea and, in extreme cases, vertigo, experienced after spending time on a craft on water and for swimmers extended time in rough water.

Treatment: Over-the-counter medications are readily available. As these medications often have side effects, you must evaluate the risks versus the benefits.

Cramp

A cramp is a painful spasm of the muscle, usually in the calf, but sometimes in the foot or thigh muscles. During a cramp, the affected muscle feels very hard. Although they are extremely painful, they can be stretched out or massaged.

Prevention: Stretching and adequate fluid/electrolyte balance are likely helpful in preventing muscle cramps

Jellyfish sting

If a swimmer is suffering from a minor skin irritation from a jellyfish sting: best treatement is a hot shower.

• In a case of a suspected venomous jellyfish sting, seek urgent medical aid, by signalling “Pan-pan, Pan-pan, Pan-pan!”) via the VHF channel 77 and then communicate your position and race number. This will be relayed to emergency vessels, which will respond with assistance.

Sunburn

• Prevent by keeping out of direct sun as much as possible, wearing sun protective clothing and applying UV screening lotions. Factor 50+ sunscreens and zincs are recommended.

Shark attack

• Remove the victim from the water if safe to do so.

• Support crew are instructed, to signal “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday!” via the VHF channel 77 and then communicate their position and race number. This will be relayed to emergency vessels, which will respond with immediate medical assistance. While waiting for medical aid to arrive, treat the victim for traumatic injury.