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Rescue Film Series: Ep. 7: Live Bait Rescue

Live bait rescue — jumping into the water to help someone in trouble while tethered to a line from shore — is risky but it can be a life saver. In Episode 7 of Rescue for River Runners, swiftwater expert Jim Coffey shows several different live bait techniques and describes the best ways to do them safely. These are advanced techniques that should be learned and practiced by those kayaking and rafting in more extreme whitewater conditions.

From our lawyers: The series is a supplement to, not a substitute for, hands-on training classes.

Live bait rescue essentially creates a throw bag with hands. It’s a high-risk technique, but if we practice it and use good judgement in its application, we can reduce the risk and get the rescue over and done with.

There are a variety of adaptations of live bait rescue that we can use to save people from holes. If we think someone can be paddling down into an area where they might get stuck in a hole, we can set up to give them a bit of an assist, to tug them out that last little bit before they get sucked back into the hole and get a real beatdown.

In fact, its best to give that assist by jumping in while they’re farthest downstream, right before they get sucked back in. That way you’re not also dealing with their boat, paddle and body thrashing around, increasing the risk to you and the paddler.

Sometimes, if a boat is caught in a hole, by tying on a small leash, the rescuer can clip the line from shore onto the boat. That way the strain of pulling the boat out is not transferred to their arms or life jacket quick-release harness.

If a person is caught in the hole, by using live bait the rescuer will have ahold of the person, can access their condition and even start CPR if needed.