The Paddlers’ Patrol
Making Illinois Safer for Paddlers
In 2010 the organizers of the DesPlaines Marathon were forced to put a last minute emergency call for safety boaters due to high water conditions. During 2010 at least six paddling events required the presence of Safety Boaters ie; The Des Plaines and Chicago Shoreline Marathons, The Flatwater Classic, The Aurora Paddlesports Festival, Paddle in the Park, and the New Years Day Paddle. Each event recruits separately, each event requires different skill sets and there are no training standards. There are also a number of private paddling events which require some form of safety supervision put on by companies like REI and Gander Mountain
We continue to read of paddler deaths in Illinois. Within he past few years we have had kayakers killed going over low head dams, at least two deaths in Lake Michigan, and numerous accounts of dangerous risks being taken by highly inexperienced paddlers.
Nationally there are about 80 canoe and Kayak deaths each year. Analysis by the American Canoe Association shows that there is a need to reach non-traditional paddlers such as fishermen and recreational kayakers who do not see themselves as paddlers and fail to practice even the most basic safety precautions. The ACA states that a”Priority must be the development testing and delivery of new safety messages designed to inform all boaters of how to avoid capsize, and the need to wear a PFD.”
The Paddlers’ Patrol will provide Safety boaters on site and on the water to deter unsafe practices and extend aid to paddlers who experience difficulty;
General logistical support and consulting to event organizers in advance of the event;
Paddler safety education and information;
Basic rescue training;
Informational tables and displays;
The contract with event sponsors will stipulate that
Patrol members will be consulted on all safety related decisions
All hazards on the water course will be removed or, not removable, clearly marked before the start of the event;
An on-shore area will be designated for safety related demonstrations and materials
The members of the Paddlers’ Patrol and IPC will be included under the liability insurance policy of the sponsoring organization.
General Water Safety Campaign
In addition, the Patrol will endeavor to instill an attitude of safety in all paddlers and and the general public. The greatest violations of safety are usually the result of ignorance and lack of skill. To address this, the Safety Patrol will provide publicity and outreach services to the general public concerning safety on the water.