Sunday, April 20, 2008

Kenduskeag krunches kause khaos

Well, Ryan and Justin and I had fun as "fishers of men" (and women and small children) at the Kenduskeag race yesterday. Our original station was quite calm, but the cheers from the crowd, and eventually an order over the radio, drew us to a much busier station in the Kenduskeag Gorge. There was a nice three foot standing wave that was just a little wild for many paddlers. Every fourth or fifth boat went over. If you had flotation, you stood a chance, but most of the amateur boats filled with water and their paddlers were guaranteed a dunking.

A couple of leaderless kids from Dirigo's youth team had perched themselves on a precarious rock, and were handling the casualties manfully, although their operation was more physically demanding than they could handle, and the perch they chose basically guaranteed that one or both of them would be injured. Not a good choice of stance. We chose a nice beach further down, where we took turns to throw ropes and were able to bring in the swimmers with ease and comfort.

In the end, one of the rock-perched kids got exhausted from swimming after paddlers, and the other fell and cracked open the fluid sac in his knee and had to withdraw. Not before insulting us for our rope-throwing ability, which we found fairly hilarious, considering that he'd just managed to get himself injured by, basically, showing off for the crowd. If he'd just let the paddlers float by, they either came to shore, or we hauled them in safely and with little risk to ourselves.

The other kid was much more pleasant and modest a SAR colleague, and I actually saw him save a couple of young children who were in somewhat serious trouble.

We must have fished out 50-60 swimmers. We got wet and a little cold, but had no other problems. The "new" state surplus Ford 350 crew cab truck makes a great SAR truck, and will be an asset on a call-out.

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