Whistle Signals:

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AndrewR
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Whistle Signals:

Postby AndrewR » Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:06 pm

This results from something which occurred on the lower the last day.

Got a swimmer and boat into O'Briens eddy with Corrigan. Swimmer lost his paddle and was well downstream by the time I spotted it. Higgins was downstream and unaware. I let off one short whistle blast and he did not respond. I did another and this time he looked upstream and i gave him a paddle signal and pointed. Unfortunately we did not discuss signals and he thought it meant something was seriously wrong. When I got to spanish arch he was quite annoyed and said that we 'never use whistle signals unless its an emergency'.


Which is fair enough. Now I have used whistle signals for a long time as sparingly as possible. I treat it as similar importance as my knife and throwbag. The reasons for it are simple, the wooping thing that some of us do sometimes is worse then useless in a very loud ww environment. It is incredibly handy for attracting attention immediately when needed. Its what the whistles are there for and actively makes sure everyone has one. We never want to fall in with the view that 'sure we never use them, no point in replacing mine for a while'.

I propose that we bring in a 3 signal system so that whistle signals are incorporated and that everybody is one the same page. Obviously don't be a whistle maniac 90% of the time, just use your voice if you think you'll be heard. Otherwise:

1. One short whistle blast: Attention! Look at me! Followed by hand signals.

2. Two whistle blasts Stop! Come to me. Usually an injury or other problem which would stop a river trip.

3. 6 blast repeated intermittently every minute This is the internationally recognized signal of distress/emergency. Answered by 3 whistle blasts back.


Like I already said be wary when using a whistle but don't be afraid to use it when needed its what it is there for. Shouting doesnt always work.

Higgins also made a good point that the lower is a bad place to use the whistle because somebody may alert emergency services. On reflection in this case he is probably right. Usually where we paddle is remote and this isn't an issue.

Thoughts?

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Re: Whistle Signals:

Postby ultanobyrne » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:33 pm

i agree with andrew on this whistles It is a distinct sound on a river and generaly gets peoples attention straight away!
When i was in nottingham there were a couple of rafts down stream from me, where 2 people in a duo swam and the duo was going down stream i spoted it and tryed to push it into the last eddy but as i was going down the course i signalled one of the safety team who was part of the rafting to say there was a submerged duo heading down stream towards the rafts where they then started blowing there whistles to get attention and so every one was aware and most importanly aware of the stiuation.
i think the whole using a whistle only in an emmergancy is very old school as in it has and always will be, but the system andrew has sugessted is in my oppinion and is needed to be implemented and possibly brought out nationwide as the system works .
generaly as far as im aware the whistle only being used in emergancy is more a mariener thing and was used by sailors and then addapted by kayakers .

A meeting should be held about this and try to come up with a solution
i found the paddle by the mouth of the river and i only knew it was missing because of the whistles .
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Re: Whistle Signals:

Postby Snoop Lion » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:43 pm

We had a chat about it on the Boluisce the last day, Irish boaters in general don't use them at all for the most part.
We used them during the SRT I did and they were saying one blast is look downstream, and two is look upstream so if you were hoping to introduce international signals you should probably go with those.

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Re: Whistle Signals:

Postby Brady » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:56 pm

As long as there's consensus within the club about what the signals mean, and as long as the signals you use are simple and easily recognised, like Dave's ones above, I couldn't imagine why there'd be a problem.

Like Andrew said about Higgins, I'd probably think something bad was happening if I heard a whistle blast on a river, but if it was the done thing, obviously you'd get out of that mindset.

I don't think it's a massively contentious issue, really. If the main body of instructors, plus the people on the committee are on board with what was said above, incorporate it into intermediate sessions/ trip briefs etc.

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Re: Whistle Signals:

Postby higgins2510 » Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:27 am

Just to be clear, I have no issue with a whistle being used to signal on rivers, the day in question I was annoyed a new signal to us had been used without discussing beforehand. When I heard whistling, I didn't pay it much heed other than to have a quick look and make sure everyone looked ok (assuming the whistling to be randomers on the bridges or something like that). So when Dave (1st year) told me it was the 'other instructor', I kinda got worried the capsize Andrew had been dealing with had gotten messy. I have actually always been in favour of using whistles on the river in the past, and had spoken about it before, but the people I was paddling with prefered to keep the whilstle for the emergencies, in case of miss-understanding.

purplegreendave wrote:We used them during the SRT I did and they were saying one blast is look downstream, and two is look upstream so if you were hoping to introduce international signals you should probably go with those.


AndrewR wrote:1. One short whistle blast: Attention! Look at me! Followed by hand signals.

2. Two whistle blasts Stop! Come to me. Usually an injury or other problem which would stop a river trip.

3. 6 blast repeated intermittently every minute This is the internationally recognized signal of distress/emergency. Answered by 3 whistle blasts back.


This is my main worry. If this is to be brought in it has to be 100% agreed upon for me. However, now would be a good time to decide as moving water sessions are hopefully just starting to pick up steam in the next few weeks, which combined with Donegal and the Inny trip (and eveen surf) could give us a good opportunity to implement whatever is decided.


Also, I'm pretty sure I've only ever heard a whistle twice on a river apart from the case outlined above; once was Donegal last year, where we all instantly knew something was serious and got off the river pronto, and the other was on the Glens one time, where I think it was myself Barry and maybe Dave heard whistling in the distance. We legged it for the source of the whistling, which turned out to be randomers out for a walk if I remember right. But if this is the typical Irish reaction (I have no idea if it is to be honest, I just know it's what we did), I'd worry that if someone went and used a whilstle for a paddle next time were on the Boluisce we could wind up with everyone on the river coming to find us to see what was wrong... just a thought.

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Re: Whistle Signals:

Postby ultanobyrne » Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:07 pm

Would it be an idea to mention it to a couple of clubs around the country and let them know if we intend to use them if implemented and also say it to gkc about it and see what they think
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Re: Whistle Signals:

Postby Bessie » Wed Oct 31, 2012 10:43 am

Can nobody else see the potential flaw here??

How are we going tell the difference between six cumulative whistle blasts, or six individual blasts of the whistle. The potential exists for 3 three downstream incidents followed by an upstream incident, followed by a downstream incident to be mis-interupted as a major incident??

Worse still 2 upstream incidents could be missed altogether by people looking for four incidents downstream??


Could we use a flashlight or something to denote the end of whistle blast groupings?

Thoughts?
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Re: Whistle Signals:

Postby AndrewR » Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:14 pm

One singular whistle blast is a serious thing on a river. If one is heard everybody should instantly be on full alert looking around to see where it came from and deal with the reasons as to why it was sounded in the first place. It should be very rarely responded to with a whistle blast. River signals should suffice once communication is established.

To try to answer you Conor, I disagree with the upstream, downstream blasts. It over complicates why we should use the whistle. Everybody on the trip is looking for the source of the alert blast once it is sounded, two whistle blasts and people are out of their boats running towards to source simple as.

As long as whistle guidelines are briefed well in the club i cant see a situation like the one you described arising.

The one blast for alert I have used the past two summers and it works excellently, many situations that could have gotten a lot worse were nipped in the bud because of this instant form of communication around the noisy whitewater.

Like Higgins said if this is to be brought it must be 100% agreed upon. It must become part of pre-trip briefs, its a bit of work, but I believe its a bit of work that will improve the safety regime on rivers for NUIGKC and with that in mind its not really that much effort at all.


Early next week before Donegal we are planning to meet up and discuss how we are running the river trip on the Saturday. It would be a great opportunity to chat about it then.

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Re: Whistle Signals:

Postby annie » Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:53 pm

You could also just

Get first years to hang on to their paddles... assume they won't do this and keep an eye out for them when someone swims... make sure they are covered in hi-vis tape (the paddles but maybe the first years too)... keep line of sight and use hand/paddle signals discussed beforehand... forget about the whistle unless someone is really in trouble? Failing that, a paddle leash would have solved the problem :) I would be afraid of people getting so used to hearing whistles that they don't respond quickly when it's really important, no matter what combination of blasts you are doing.
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Re: Whistle Signals:

Postby AndrewR » Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:44 pm

annie wrote:Get first years to hang on to their paddles... assume they won't do this and keep an eye out for them when someone swims... make sure they are covered in hi-vis tape (the paddles but maybe the first years too)... keep line of sight and use hand/paddle signals discussed beforehand


The priority is always the swimmer and then the boat if a swimmer lets go of the paddle its hard to retrieve it no matter how much hi-vis tape you use. Its not just first years who let go of paddles either, been in plenty of situations where the person who has released the paddle is a very competent boater. Either way this isn't about paddles.

This is about having a back up where shouting or whooping doesn't work, the better communication you have the better you are going to clean-up an incident. Or to even avoid one happening. Nipping it in the bud as I mentioned before.

Example: Ive seen a leader in the distance leading a group of 4 down the rapid. He looked back but didn't spot that one of his group had swam. I was on the bank and whistled once and pointed frantically. He spots the swimmer gets his group eddied in and tows the swimmer out of the water before he swam over a ledge hole. No whistle and the swimmer was in for a possible evac.

annie wrote:forget about the whistle unless someone is really in trouble?


This is the American WW system which most American boaters Ive talked to about it don't follow. Forget about whistles totally unless somebody is in real danger.

This leads to hesitancy about whether to use to whistle or not where a situation appears to be under control, then it degenerates. An early whistle blast to alert all people in the group about a potential dangerous situation developing brings about a proactive response to the situation.

Take the photo below on the rock garden. I'd blow my whistle once here to alert the rest of the guys downstream in case the situation here got worse. They were already running up the bank by the time the guys got themselves free. But a situation like this very well could have got worse.

annie wrote: I would be afraid of people getting so used to hearing whistles that they don't respond quickly when it's really important, no matter what combination of blasts you are doing.


Now this bit is up to us. Instilling a real sense of urgency once a whistle is sounded on the river. We have a great system of debriefing now after a river trip. If a whistle is ever used on a trip I expect it to be brought up in the debrief and the instructor who used it should explain his actions unless its obvious as to why he did it.
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Re: Whistle Signals:

Postby Bessie » Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:43 pm

AndrewR wrote:
As long as whistle guidelines are briefed well in the club i cant see a situation like the one you described arising.


HAHAHAHA

God help your legal career if ya cant see the witness is taking the piss!!

As with all signals we use within the remit of NUIG paddling, they just need to be agree upon before ya get on the river. Simple as.

The issue really arises when you interact with other outside people on the river. We've had multiple incidents were European paddler's interupt our (NUIG) 'Go' signal as a stop signal on the river. Don't be surprised if get people outside your group reacting 'as if the shit has hit the fan' when they here a whistle but I can definitely see the merits using a whistle to get someones attention just be aware in Ireland that it is not widely accepted convention.

Oh and see if you can get your sarcasm detector adjusted :)
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Re: Whistle Signals:

Postby Solid » Wed Oct 31, 2012 9:43 pm

Bessie wrote:Can nobody else see the potential flaw here??

How are we going tell the difference between six cumulative whistle blasts, or six individual blasts of the whistle. The potential exists for 3 three downstream incidents followed by an upstream incident, followed by a downstream incident to be mis-interupted as a major incident??

Worse still 2 upstream incidents could be missed altogether by people looking for four incidents downstream??


Could we use a flashlight or something to denote the end of whistle blast groupings?

Thoughts?


I think I have the perfect solution to your problem Conor.

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I think the club should look into buying one for every instructor in Donegal.
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Re: Whistle Signals:

Postby Snoop Lion » Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:32 am


Assign a tune to each and every possible situation that may/may not arise. No more confusion. Ever.

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Re: Whistle Signals:

Postby higgins2510 » Thu Nov 01, 2012 5:08 pm

The more opinions the better I suppose!

Any of this 1 blast= upstream, 2 blasts = downstream, 3 blasts = ...... crazy talk, way too confusing and liable for miss-interpretation for me to ever feel comfortable using the whistle in the first place. I reckon anything more than one short sharp blast should definitely be saved for serious situations which require urgent attention. This would also underline the importance of only ever using a single whistle blast in the less-serious situations.


I can see the benefits of having a single whistle blast be used to get people on alert in situations where people may have switched off, not expecting or aware of an incident etc. where traditional methods (signals, yelling, whoop whoop) have failed. Care would just have to be taken to avoid multiple whistle blasts at once, such as 2 paddlers reacting the the same situation and having the same reaction, or possibly another group on the river, but I couldn't imagine it happening that often or being overly difficult to figure out at the time. Unless some flaw is yet to be pointed out in this I wouldn't mind incorporating this into the brief.

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Re: Whistle Signals:

Postby Morlet » Thu Nov 01, 2012 7:05 pm

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Maybe the answer lies in this special whistle supplement.
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