Life raft for drowning victims

August 28, 2011

In early August, the Haaglanden Fire Service tested a new life raft for rescuing people who are drowning. ‘The initial tests are very promising’, says Jack Ruibing, Quality and Innovation Programme Director, and Chair of the steering group of the EU’s ‘WaterSave’ project in the Haaglanden Safety Region. 'The Rescue Tip-Board is a fast, safe and labour-friendly method for carrying out rescues in the water. This life saver should be a part of basic fire fighting equipment.'

Pressing problem
The Rescue Tip-Board, a product from Spark and HONOR Safety & Consultancy, solves a pressing problem. Motor boats are often difficult to launch, or it takes too long before they are operational. What’s more, there are many, and dangerous, manoeuvres necessary in order to pull a drowning person from the water and hoist him into the boat. Swimming to the victim takes a lot of time and energy and demands a great deal of both the drowning person and the rescuer.

Smart solution
The Rescue Tip-Board is a light-weight self-inflating life raft that comes in combination with the Seabob, a powerful electric hydro jet ski that pulls the raft. This combination can be easily transported with a fire engine and is quick to launch. The fire service diver can drive the Seabob at high speed to the victim, pulling the Rescue Tip-Board with him. The diver then positions the life raft next to the victim. This allows the victim to be pulled easily on to the raft.

A unique characteristic of the raft is its tilting movement. At the head of the Rescue Tip-Board are two buoys sticking up at an angle. When the fire service diver steps in between the buoys, the raft tilts forwards. The diver can then squat down and pull the floating victim towards him. He then allows himself to fall gently backwards, pulling the drowning person with him. The life raft will tilt backwards and is quickly transported away by the Seabob.

Safe, labour-friendly and fast
The Rescue Tip-Board is six times faster than a rescue swimmer, and in contrast to a motor boat it is always much easier to launch. This time saving is crucial for a victim that needs to be stabilised as quickly as possible. In addition, there is minimal handling of the drowning person. As a result of the clever tilting movement, hardly any lifting is required; this minimises the chance of extra injury or stress. What’s more, it saves the energy of the rescue workers: they can now focus on saving the victim. All this makes the Rescue Tip-Board an excellent rescue resource that means drowning people can be rescued and evacuated rapidly and with the minimum amount of intervention.