The Value of Personal Protective Equipment – PPE

We have so much to do all the time

The rescue ‘fashion’ side of our work is the protection of products we surround ourselves to work in our host environments.

There is a lot of junk produced worldwide that is marginal to ‘get by’ with being used, mainly from reference, reviews or industry networking. Then there are high end products that make things a bit easier, but let’s face it, ‘aquatic and product’ is like a tea bag; the more you dip the bag each use its strength wanes until it’s not recognizable.

These products all end up with similar lifespans. Water immersion requires more time in maintenance and operability, especially in high mineral content or acidic environments or constant UV exposure.

Sometimes it is the lack of discipline of inspecting, cleaning, drying and recording PPE use and care results.

Viewing hundreds of department programs, we can get by until something goes wrong or breaks. In a mishap PPE will be collected for review during an investigation as will the maintenance records of all equipment and training.

There are 5 problems that are often in the way or program PPE continual success;

1. Time - set up, review, remove for repair or replacement
2. Money – purchasing, maintenance/replacement
3. Effective Maintenance – inspections - care
4. Training for PPE
5. Selection Process & Management of Team Participants and Responsibilities

These five items are dependent upon one another. This is truly the toughest part about compliance with standards, rules and regulations. If every item was lined up with all its clauses and policy requirements, we may never make it to the water in time to be effective. This is truly a balancing act or team management and personal responsibility.

The problem with marginal training is few people are able to identify this prior to a mishap, but its easy to investigate post-accident and determine the wrongs that pre-existed. Are we reactive or proactive in our program management?

The selection process of team members is critical whether volunteer or paid employees. There is physical, weight and mobility risks in dynamic conditions that must be honestly accounted for by participants. Can you touch your toes? How is your cardio?

General weight, overweight or obesity risk factors in dynamic conditions for the operation?
What can you do?

Research your applicable standards. How do they apply to your PPE? Record them and present in team meetings. Determine your course of action for individual records, maintenance and retirement. Read the PPE warning labels, use and care instructions.

What are the annual hours of use applied to each product? Note the in-service anniversary date vs. callouts and training.

Have you determined replacement budget, shipping timelines for broken or irreparable PPE? Do you have backup PPE for immediate replacement or will your team experience down time?

Determine an adequate annual budget with the proper sizing, fit and maintenance needs.

If your specified program cannot afford to maintain the PPE which is for the protection and support of team members, perhaps the program needs to be reviewed and determination made if the agency can afford to manage a program effectively. An option is to close the program down, or halt it temporarily to address corrections; before an investigation post-accident reveals the limits of the program.


Posted: November 24, 2021

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Caution: Visit page (site) terms and conditions. Please take a qualified Rescue Water Craft training course and maintain proper records and respect all the PWC, RWC, PPE, and OEM manufacturer warning labels and cautions and country of origin regulations. The opinions and information in this post is subject to change as industry alerts, methods or notices are administered through laws, rules, cautions, regulations, or industry standards and will not be reflected in the original post date. Use at your own discretion, risk and caution.

K38 Content Creator of Rescue Water Craft and Personal Water Craft boating international education, jobsite safety and standards: Shawn is the world’s foremost authority and leading subject matter expert. She cares most about her community and the culture surrounding the safety of event service providers, Public Safety Agencies, Military and Rescue Water Craft operators. Dedicated towards protecting their reputation, distributing safety information and continuing to train these amazing individuals to the highest standards of care and competency

COVID-19 and Use of Masks in the Water



N95 respirator ‘filtering’ face masks (FFRs) often are recommended and sometimes required for respiratory protection against infectious aerosol. There are various peer reviewed medical discussions and studies conducted on the use of respiration protection.

Recently we are observing a number of Rescue Water Craft (RWC or Personal Water Craft - PWC) recommendations for their use while underway, without reciprocal evidence to challenge the safety of this practice.

Likewise, there is significant controversy regarding one verifiable source that determines the who, what, when where and why with a contradictory reciprocal source. So, who is telling us the truth? Such as is the case with the current virus that came out of Wuhan, China in late 2019 and became known worldwide as COVID-19.

These on-water wearing measures did not make sense to me from a Watermanship experience. I decided to pull out a N95 mask and provide a simple, factual and effective demonstration on why I do not recommend my K38 Instructors to wear a face covering on the water while conducting Rescue Water Craft operations.

The 14 masks used in the test.
Neck fleeces, also called gaiter masks and often used by runners, were the least effective. In fact, wearing a fleece mask resulted in a higher number of respiratory droplets because the material seemed to break down larger droplets into smaller particles that are more easily carried away with air.

Folded bandanas and knitted masks also performed poorly and did not offer much protection.

"We were extremely surprised to find that the number of particles measured with the fleece actually exceeded the number of particles measured without wearing any mask," Fischer said. "We want to emphasize that we really encourage people to wear masks, but we want them to wear masks that actually work."


I have thousands and thousands of de novo hours working on the water in every type of weather condition and all waterway levels around the world; day and night. In fact, more than any human on Earth at this time. I have worn balaclavas since the early 1990’s. Due to inclement weather while working in extreme water conditions to cold or high wind conditions. Balaclavas have limitations and are a compliment to the risk environment we operate in.

The use of a balaclava has assisted me with the reduction of wind chill effects. Everyone who has seriously worked a Rescue Water Craft boat knows the effect is not a sunburn, but wind burn on the face of exposed skin. Hence the entry use of the full face and neck covering referred to as ‘balaclava’. Not to be confused with the utterly delicious baklava.

There are concerns however. These balaclavas are best used not to of thick material made of felt or similar. The water saturation levels can be significant. My experience after buying over 60 of these for testing, and different uses in the water have taught me that the thinnest material is the best. And why is that you ask?

Oxygen reduction when placed under physical exertion is a reality wearing one of these face shields. We use a full head covering that covers the entire length of the neck and leaves an opening for goggles.

Operating a Rescue Water Craft is considered an ‘active ride’. Also, the compliment of eye protection equally assists in preventing loss of vision or injury. The fogging effect of goggles is a second discussion to be concerned about. Balaclava breathing holes help, but that would defeat the purpose of airborne particle dispersion.

How many people have you heard complain who are shopping and wearing masks for the first time stating that their glasses are fogging up? Yup. There it is.

I learned the limitations of covering my nasal and oral passages under exertion, at speed, with gale force winds, serious temperature changes and intense painful rainfall. The experience of having a box of nails thrown at my face (your face) traveling at 35 miles per hour with 30 knots of wind is not a pleasant experience.

A Balaclava is a huge help, however breathing patterns are more strained. If working in a saltwater environment the concentration of salt will build up over hours; a corrosive influence against skin or lip contact.

Our body fights back and increases drainage, specifically the faucet starts to run on snot and mucus that our bodies create from struggling to maintain optimum balance against these environmental balances. Operating a Rescue Water Craft is not a dry experience. It is a ‘wet and saturated ride’. That is why Coxswains and crew wear specific water Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and not dry garments or uniforms. This is due to ‘exposure’.

Operating through surf is considered ‘high to extreme risk’ due to the fact that a hard-hulled power boat can capsize. The Man Over Board (MOB) potential is a true reality. These extreme operating zones required proper vetting of both the crew and the equipment used, including PPE. Keep It Simple Stupid, KISS is a good rule.

Navigating inside the surf zone eventually will determine the Coxswain must operate the craft up over wave after wave of varying intensity and height. This creates an overall splash down effect of the exterior of the craft, TAD (Towable Aquaplane Device aka rescue board) and those on board. N95 respirator masks will not make it out here. Some balaclavas may become a hinderance instead of an advantage. Bandanas are loosely fitting and have air flow voids; helmets may not fit properly and cause the helmet to ride forward towards the eyebrows.

This 'wet down' behavior applies to certain fetch, angle and steepness of swell or river class of navigation. Wind can also whip up spray, and the vessel itself can create a ‘spray curtain’ depending upon the Coxswain ability and navigating determination.

Qualified Coxswains and Crew wear full water rescue PPE, this means full finger water gloves. These gloves are also saturated. They must wear a water style helmet. The helmet can collect and drain water along with gloves.
How much water is held within saturated gloves? How much in a saturated face mask?

To be a qualified professional Rescue Water Craft Coxswain is a heady responsibility. One must multi task on multiple operational levels while underway. Psolar.BX Balaclava is one of interest but I have not tested this product yet. Typically, Balaclavas are for heat exchange for facial exposure, primarily used in snowmobile, bikes, motorcycles and any fast-moving activity against the exposure of wind chill, burn, rain or snow. But rarely water.

A fouled mask that causes an effect similar to reduced oxygen flow and the potential for inhalation of water is a thousand MEME dream come true. I can’t breathe! Because it is probably true.


Let’s ask a stupid question: How is a respirator mask or face covering going to protect crew who operates on a vessel that is at the water line and maintain the efficacy of the rule of safety for ‘face masks, with wet gloves, wet helmet and wet PPE?

Undeniable we will get either jackass comments or realistic professional responses. There is only one answer.

It is impossible and improbable. But it does allow people to pretend they are doing something, even if its wrong.

So why are Rescue Water Craft personnel rushing to jump on the silly train? Where is their evidence and justification? Where is their safety argument? I offer you my professional evaluation, and encourage your own.

The decision to not wear a qualified type and proper fit for a N95 respirator that prevents COVID-19 droplet contact while working with a Rescue Water Craft at the shores edge or on the water during training or operations is based upon thousands of hours of evidence-based practical and real-world experience.

N95 rated masks are considered respirators due to their ability to filter 95% of particles in the environment using static electricity. Let me stress that is a ‘dry’ environment.

These masks in the USA are tested and approved by the National Institute for Occupational safety and Health referred to as NIOSH. Each fit must be ergonomic to facial shape to ensure a snug and tight fit.

Rescue Water Craft Coxswains are being asked in an occupational field to be compliant. However, there is no solution for working on, in or over the water with a proper respirator while underway in active environments.

These masks must be properly and tightly fitted with minimal leakage to be effective. Not gonna happen.

What if you are asthmatic? The World Health Organization described asthma as a common lung condition that causes sporadic breathing difficulties. Adding that its strongest risk factors are inhaled substances and particles that may provoke allergic reactions or irritate the airways.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) clearly explain the medical health risk justification for not wearing a face mask while working; on, in or contact with the water due to risk of personal and team safety.

This could cause a serious accident, injury, loss of the vessel, damage to the equipment or in extreme cases due to location; death.

People should not wear cloth face coverings while engaged in activities that may cause the cloth face covering to become wet, like when swimming at the beach or pool. A wet cloth face covering may make it difficult to breathe. For activities like swimming, it is particularly important to maintain physical distance from others when in the water.
People who are engaged in high intensity activities, like running, may not be able to wear a cloth face covering if it causes difficulty breathing
. If unable to wear a cloth face covering, consider conducting the activity in a location with greater ventilation and air exchange (for instance, outdoors versus indoors) and where it is possible to maintain physical distance from others.
• People who work in a setting where cloth face coverings may increase the risk of heat-related illness or cause safety concerns due to introduction of a hazard (for instance, straps getting caught in machinery) may consult with an occupational safety and health professional to determine the appropriate face covering for their setting. Outdoor workers may prioritize use of cloth face coverings when in close contact with other people, like during group travel or shift meetings, and remove face coverings when social distancing is possible.

Water penetration is significant with wearing any of the following covering the airway (nasal/oral) while underway:

1. Folded Cotton Bandana
2. Thin Fabric Balaclava
3. N95 Respirator Mask

Or a combination thereof. This also forces a safety problem for Coxswain and Crew eye protection (Eyebrow) causing the interior of the lends to fog up at a faster rate.

This is a serious safety problem for underway operations. Vapor steaming the interior of the lens during normal operations is a concern and greatly enhances with additional temperature changes and physical exertion breathing patterns. Goggles are used with a close-fitting seal against the face.

Helmets structure can alter this fit and adding any additional layers below the frame alter the safe use of goggles inherent use protocols.


The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states the following emphasizing the words MAY, MOST LIKELY:

• ‘Cloth face coverings may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. Cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings
• Cloth face coverings should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance
• Cloth face coverings are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the cloth face covering coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. This is called source control
• The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
Cloth face coverings should not be worn by:
• Children younger than 2 years old
• Anyone who has trouble breathing
• Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance
• In some situations, wearing a cloth face covering may exacerbate a physical or mental health condition, lead to a medical emergency, or introduce significant safety concerns. Adaptations and alternatives should be considered whenever possible to increase the feasibility of wearing a cloth face covering or to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading if it is not possible to wear one.


Surgical Masks
CDC: ‘Cloth face coverings are not surgical masks or respirators. Currently, those are critical supplies that should continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance. Cloth face coverings also are not appropriate substitutes for them in workplaces where masks or respirators are recommended or required and available.’

Testing the Efficacy of Homemade Masks: Would They Protect in an Influenza Pandemic?

Objective: This study examined homemade masks as an alternative to commercial face masks.

Methods: Several household materials were evaluated for the capacity to block bacterial and viral aerosols. Twenty-one healthy volunteers made their own face masks from cotton t-shirts; the masks were then tested for fit. The number of microorganisms isolated from coughs of healthy volunteers wearing their homemade mask, a surgical mask, or no mask was compared using several air-sampling techniques.

Results: The median-fit factor of the homemade masks was one-half that of the surgical masks. Both masks significantly reduced the number of microorganisms expelled by volunteers, although the surgical mask was 3 times more effective in blocking transmission than the homemade mask.

Our findings suggest that a homemade mask should only be considered as a last resort to prevent droplet transmission from infected individuals, but it would be better than no protection.

Wet PPE, N95 masks

Employees of the government-run ambulance service provider 108 complained that personal protective equipment is difficult to work in as it gets soaked, and it is difficult to breathe through wet N95 masks. N-95 masks, which are made of non-woven polypropylene fabric, are not waterproof. Once wet, they are difficult to breathe through.
“We don’t get waterproof face shields so when the mask gets wet, we have no option but to remove it and wear a new one once inside,” said another ambulance worker from 108. This means the ambulance workers expose themselves to infection in a contaminated area while changing masks.

Understanding the Differences infographic:

As well as providing this guidance to the public, the Yolo County Health Department is also advising the cautious use of N95 respirators for the following reasons:
• N95 respirators can make it more difficult for the wearer to breathe due to carbon dioxide build up, which reduces the intake of oxygen, increased breathing rates and heart rates.
• People with chronic respiratory, cardiac or other medical conditions that make breathing difficulty should check with their healthcare provider before using an N95 respirator.
• To work as expected, an N95 respirator requires a proper fit to your face.
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not generally recommend facemasks and respirators for use in home or community settings.
• N95 use may lead to increased heart rate, respiratory rate, work of breathing, carbon dioxide buildup in micro-ambient air and heat stress -- potentially posing risk to sensitive populations.
• Use of masks may encourage outdoor activity which could worsen exposure.
• N95 masks are not recommended for children due to the impact on breathing.

Please follow the above recommended actions to stay healthy and safe. For more information regarding air quality and public health in Yolo, visit:

Study of the micro-climate and bacterial distribution in the dead space of N95 filtering face respirators
During inhalation, the temperature of the core region decreases gradually until the end of the breath cycle.

Meanwhile, the temperature of the core region is slightly higher than that of the surrounding region because the core region is closer to the nostrils. Overall, the temperature of dead space is approximately 6 K higher than the ambient temperature of 296.25 K.

Figure 5 shows the cross-sectional view of the water vapor volume fraction in the upper respiratory system during the 101st breath cycle. It can be found that the water vapor volume fraction around the FFR rises rapidly during exhalation, and the largest concentration of water vapor occurs at the core region at 483.0 s (end of exhalation). It is apparent that the concentration of water vapor decreases during inhalation.

Physiological Impact of the N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirator on Healthcare Workers

Conclusions: In healthy healthcare workers, FFR did not impose any important physiological burden during 1 hour of use, at realistic clinical work rates, but the FFR dead-space carbon dioxide and oxygen levels were significantly above and below, respectively, the ambient workplace standards, and elevated P (CO2) is a possibility. Exhalation valve did not significantly ameliorate the FFR's P (CO2) impact.

NIOSH routinely makes recommendations regarding the use of respirators for workers exposed to environments that contain hazardous concentrations of airborne contaminants or oxygen-deficient atmospheres. This document provides industrial hygienists and other professionals knowledgeable in respirator selection with a procedure for selecting suitable classes of respirators for particular concentrations of specific contaminants.

N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirator Dead space Temperature and Humidity
The objective of this study was to determine the levels of heat and humidity that develop within the dead space of N95 filtering facepiece respirators (N95 FFR).

FFR mean moisture retention was < 0.3 grams over 2 hr. N95 FFR/EV offer a significant advantage in dead space heat dissipation over N95 FFR at a low-moderate work rate over 1 hr. of continuous use but offered no additional benefit in humidity amelioration. Moisture retention in N95 FFR and N95 FFR/EV is minimal after 2 hr. of use. [Supplementary materials are available for this article. Go to the publisher's online edition of Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene for the following free supplemental resource: a file containing N95 filtering facepiece respirator dead space mean RH and temperature recordings for 17 subject’s treadmill exercising at 5.6 Km/H over 1 hour.].

Americans with Disabilities Act determined that you are not required if you fall under ADA categories to disclose your medical condition to anyone regarding ‘not wearing a face covering or mask’.


Continue your own research. Reach out to Subject Matter Experts. Open the #WARESed diaglogue. Don't follow untested methods without engaging in research, study and dialogue. This is good advice to all our fellow water safety partners. Tread lightly or don't tread at all, or you may sink.

And Balaclavas are great! Ask me how I know?

Faithfully yours,



Posted: July 9, 2020

Content Creator of Rescue Water Craft and Personal Water Craft boating international education standards: Shawn is the world’s foremost authority and leading subject matter expert. She cares most about her community and the culture surrounding the safety of event service providers and Rescue Water Craft operators, working hard and dedicated towards protecting their reputation, distributing safety information and continuing to train these amazing individuals to the highest standards of care.


Have any questions? Come train with us and discover what your community is doing to modernize standards, safety and reduce liability!

Caution: Visit page terms and conditions. Use at your own risk. Please take a qualified Rescue Water Craft training course and maintain proper records and respect all the PWC, RWC, PPE, and gear OEM manufacturer warning labels and cautions.

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Please do not make us gear that we purchase before its ready for field work. Let's engage in a #WARESed conversation.

Put appropriate time and measures into product design and the end result so we can move our maritime culture forward instead of a holding pattern restricting our progress.

We need to modernize our gear list but we need credible and safe equipment that is ready to do the job at the point of purchase.

How many of us have relied on a reference from a colleague then purchased the item to realize that person didn't know what they were talking about and now that poor investment sits in a corner not being used?

That is really hard on the budget and it holds back our potential to solve critical problems we face in life and death situations.

K38 relies on our maritime history, we continue to encourage you to adopt our mindset regarding lessons learned from the past. There is no excuse we can accept today to not listen to these warnings.

We cannot afford to repeat history, but allow it to mentor our path forward.

Beta Test-From the Merriam-Webster dictionary; a field test of the beta version of a product especially by testers outside the company developing it that is conducted prior to commercial release.

Back in 1983 the computer was emerging with a variety of test fields surrounding its function, design and utility use, this is where the term was first coined.

Today it is applied to a variety of discussions regarding new ideas applied to pre-production to get the product ready for sale.

K38 relies on history because history does not lie, but it is often ignored by the ignorant, those resistors of change and progress.

Here is a maritime war history example from Europe in our grandfathers generation: During WWII the Germany Nazi war movement had a fleet of submarines called U-Boats that operated in wolf packs.

They hoped their torpedoes would take out the merchant fleets as part of their war strategy.

Off the shores of Poland’s Gydnia is a historical maritime example that was called the Kriegsmarine Submarine Arms Research Center. Referred to today as “Torpedownia”.

Their U-Boat program was experiencing a 30% detonation failure on torpedoes. The Nazis were unable to catch up with the Allies. The only problem is they had a problem. They were mounting losses quickly.

The facility design need was aggressive, critical from their previous test methods lacked vital research results.

However this testing facility came too late after the fact; their timing was not able to save them.

Torpedownia came along too late in the war strategy because the Nazi’s were already behind the pattern in the game. All for the lack of beta testing. Thankfully this did not work out in their favor.

This is warfare maritime history. Today we can relate to these lessons that are written in history, there are many storied examples you can reference and you should.

Failures are dependent on proper beta testing to have been the prominent element in the goals of design. Without this production will reap heavy failures. Brand reputation will suffer and so will those who purchase and buy into the promise of a new solution to a critical problem.

Unfortunately, we have our own disasters to contend with.

Companies or people who have an idea, perhaps they are not maritime engineers, not from the maritime community, do not have 10,000 proven hours or ten years of storied experienced with a Rescue Water Craft. But the idea concept is good. What should be the testing criteria from idea to field?

Or perhaps their testing expert or concept designers have never conducted a true rescue under critical pressure, been in a storm, at night, a flood, a disaster zone, a river, and so you get the picture. How did they evaluate their experiences and are they documented for review? then they are not an expert, do not trust your life with their words.

Maybe they only interviewed from a place of hubris and did not branch out to reach ten other persons to get ten input directions, instead of the tunnel vision of one passage in a zone.

The framework of success lies in the strategy of the pattern, not the concept of use. This is where I excel in the mode of chronological expertise.

Ideas are easy to come by the thousands, everyone has an idea, but the 'devil is in the details', right?

Success is determined by the answers often ignored because testing was not a measure of success, but hubris for the idea or concept. When I test, I test first for the failure, not the goal, but the ways this product can fail or how it may impede specific behaviors or actions.

Critical detailed research has to be mapped out. I am very good at this regarding our training methods and the products we will use.

However, from my estimation, experience and equipment use we simply do not have proper supporting gear. We are borrowing it from other water safety fields and even then, I question why we are using some of these products.

Some are marginal. They don’t fill our use. They are not structural sound, may even lack effective testing and have no laboratory exposure.

The problem once again is a lack of experts who fill in the role of an 'Emperor with no Clothes'. These self appointed gurus will sell suspect gear, promote it and their followers then poorly imitate their example. This is not a good role model for our community. Ask me how I know?

Speak up when you see somebody wearing poor gear or use, or worse yet promoting it! Because if do not speak up and question the presentation you will be supporting the failure of a colleague. And who wants a brother or sister in our water safety culture to fail?

It is your responsibility to ask effective questions about product and conduct appropriate research.

When I ask a company or a salesman tell me the story of this products testing, there is a moment of suffering.

A typical reaction is ‘tested by this group’…they throw down a recognizable name, but that means nothing to me. What matters to me is where are the test methods employed by this legendary group or person? Silence.

How many hours did this legendary group or person test, say maybe 100 hours? Silence

How many failures were experienced during their testing experience? Silence

How many revisions were based off the Beta Testing of these so-called legends were compiled? Silence

These are people with no evidence to prove they are capable of testing products effectively.

They do not qualify to test without ensuring they have documented evidence to back up their name.

They could be a great gal or guy, but that's not the point. Why should I or you trust our life with a simple assessment of 'nice guy'.

This is why K38 buys a lot of gear, tests it for a season, 100 hours or a year before we enjoy saying ‘yes we approve of this product to use for our field need’. We do what others neglect, this is another justification of my Subject Matter Expertise.

It's not my name, its my safety mindset behavior that is concerned about the culture and my fellow brothers and sisters in our community and the equipment we employ.

When I touch a new helmet for review I design my test method around all our colleagues worldwide; their wife or husband, their children, their agency, their colleagues, so you get the picture.

Sadly, there is not that many that pass the ISO standards by simply saying their constructive materials are part of the sales pitch. Slapping a reference for a standard is a sucker punch if you don’t research what that standard represents and how it applies to your field work.

It is hard to source good gear. It typically not for our discipline, we are adapting a large amount of equipment from other uses. It's also difficult for these companies to make specific use gear because they need profit to keep making and testing gear. That translates into numbers.

Since a lot of our water safety disciplines are cross over responses, the gear funnel is narrow.

So how do you determine what a testing subject matter expert is? Contact K38 and we will show you what works and the testing methods and applications we employ. But be prepared to damage and destroy gear and to have it recorded as evolutionary design evidence.

I am confident to say if you can pass muster with K38 your product is sufficient to be called a ‘water safety’ product for field use. We are serious about our commitment to save lives.

Hence the Kawasaki Jet Ski, as the example. A tough hull, a well-balanced craft, a steady and stable craft with an easy re-boarding platform.

Yes, it is a recreationally designed personal water craft, however it is adaptable for a Rescue Water Craft because of its proven use in every water condition from floods, to surf, to open water during day and night, storms and tides.

Its proven its merit as a stable, steady working boat for moderate to high risk use by highly trained Coxswains. It doesn’t have the structural design elements that restrict some of our safety behaviors.

Keep in mind however that we as public safety responders are taking a recreational designed product and adapting our behaviors to work in austere instances that this boat was not to originally perform under.

The manufacturing process is set for a specific target audience. It is important to realize no matter what gear you employ that its intended use may not be in the manner you are utilizing it.

Therefore you assume the liability, so pay close attention. In fact you need to scrutinize and inspect surgically with precision of risk your behavior, training, environment and service life. You essentially are the end point of success or failure.

Hence the testing methods are even more critical to protect the integrity of the manufacturer’s intention as we modify drastically the safety application we desire. People often ask me what is the best PWC to use?

Well, that is an honorable question that requires our test methods and results to their specific need. I am the only person who has conducted such research that I have witnessed. I lead our community by effort, study and application. We have to care about our culture, not only our business alliances, or ideas, but one another.

The old saying ‘the proof is in the pudding’ refers to if you want to discover evidence from a homicide go check the pudding they ate for the arsenic poisoning.

All we need to do is look at photos and videos today to see the evidence-based facts on products, their utility use, the end user results and the failures. And many end users abuse the product recommendations and create an unsafe behavior that others will poorly imitated. Why is this? People fail to ask effective questions. They are weak.

How many so-called water safety products do you purchase that do not have a warranty printed? A user manual? A rating explanation? A 'Care and Inspection' list or guide? When do you retire the product? Where are the warning labels? And then the ones who do all of this are quite noticeable for good reason!

We need these companies who are brave and daring to take on the expense and risk of product design and development. We need to support their professional efforts on our behalf. We have to respect the use of their gear.

But please I beg of you, start with a working plan and not a bro deal. We encourage you to get it right by mapping our a strategy to the pattern of utility use, risk and test methods that are verifiable so we can quantify the productivity of the end result. Which is in our hands.

Please do not send your untested, unproven products or ideas to our water safety community as a sale item to purchase. We do not want to be guinea pigs at our own expense for beta testing your unfinished product design and risk our life and reputation.

So many times I have been at at training where people are 'testing' a new product. They put it on and in ten minutes 'they like it', but have no reason to say why they like it.

Are they simply comparing it to the past junk they were using? Possibly, and sometimes its about how good they look. I call that 'RESCUE FASHION'.

If your company is doing your beta testing and getting feedback from your client after purchase, you have no business designing lifesaving equipment, let alone selling it until you have completed your job. It should not be listed for purchase at this point but after all the fact based evidence has been compiled and sorted.

Lives depend upon it. Test as if it matters.

And be ready to provide us your evidence as proof of testing methods.

Because it matters very much to us and those we serve.

Beta test Merriam-Webster dictionary
War History Online: War History Online
Torpedownia, Gydnia, Poland Gydnia History Torpedownia


Faithfully yours,

Shawn Alladio & K38


Posted: May 2, 2020

Content Creator of Rescue Water Craft and Personal Water Craft boating international education standards: Shawn Alladio is the world’s foremost authority and leading subject matter expert. She cares most about her community and the culture surrounding the safety of event service providers and Rescue Water Craft operators, working hard and dedicated towards protecting their reputation, distributing safety information and continuing to train these amazing individuals to the highest standards of care.


Have any questions? Come train with us and discover what your community is doing to modernize standards, safety and reduce liability!

Caution: Visit page terms and conditions. Use at your own risk. Please take a qualified Rescue Water Craft training course and maintain proper records and respect all the PWC, RWC, PPE, and gear OEM manufacturer warning labels and cautions.



Identify Your Strong Coxswains.

What is a Coxswain? They are the Operator. They are the Captain. They are in charge of the Crew. They are in charge of the ship (Rescue Water Craft). It is important to identify your strong Coswains for a variety of reasons:

1. Reduction of liability through competence
2. Teaming (building a cohesive unit)
3. Safety at Sea
4. Operational Integrity
5. Mentoring
6. Operational Acumen


When you can identify the strength in your Operators you have a distinct advantage to identify the complimentary deficiencies in your team. This is something that needs to be conducted periodically.

How can you make an assessment?

1. Review the condition of the Rescue Water Craft(s)
2. Review the condition of the trailering and Transport equipment
3. Quiz the Operators
4. Skillset assess monthly the technical ability of your team
5. Rate the level of competency and assign the rating in the database
6. Describe the shortcomings and capabilities, make improvement on both!
7. Assign degrees of performance related to service work

If you have an Operator that is identified as problematic in techincal skills, but is high in managing equipment, perhaps a reassignment is necessary? Where are their strengths? What are they comfortable doing? What are the uncomfortable doing?

Provide an honest counseling session regarding performance, executive and completion of all tasks. Ask them if they would be willing to take on another level and manage that specific area of the program. Correlate that with documentation that will verify their factual performance and related success or defaults.

It is important that an administrator oversees and inspects the performance of the team, leaders and program guidelines.

K38 Jet Ski Training


Strength is a needed ingredient in program management and sustainability, but how do we measure strength?

Is id conducted by setting a program and essentially abandoning it year after year because its always been that way or do we determine to investigate the program failures and success?

That begins with the personnel in charge. Whether administrators, operators, crew or mechanics the teaming aspect is critical for future safety as well as present safety and program sustainability.

Make a commitment right now to review your Rescue Water Craft program.

Interview your team.

Ask them what they think is working well and what areas they would like to see changes.

Be courageous and represent integrity, as you may be saving one of your team members reputation or your own.

Care About Your Team


...Otherwise the door is open for a mishap.

Don't wait until you have to learn from a lesson.

Take the lessons now and make a plan. A solid plan.

People do not have to get hurt, Rescue Water Craft do not have to be damaged to learn a lesson.

Today there are service providers such as K38 who have gone through the scale of difficulty and formatted procedures that
protect reputation, reduce risk of injury and accident and are on the frontline of knowledge.

If you do not have a subject matter expert on your staff who is invested in the Rescue Water Craft community and can represent 100 questions that are accurate about a Rescue Water Craft, 200 questions about the environment and 500 questions about how this lines up accidents, you may need to reach out and have your program reviewed.

Backing up and slowing down your program flow can save your department and your staff intense grief and discouragement.

Review your mishaps. The story is in the actions and the subsequent behaviors can be alerted.

Ask us how we know?

Good luck, we wish you a safe and noble program that you are proud of and your people are operating safely!

Posted: 10.27.2018

Have any questions? Join the Rescue Water Craft Association
and discover what your community is doing to modernize standards, safety and reduce liability!
Join the Rescue Water Craft Association

Content Creator: Shawn Alladio cares most about her community and the culture surrounding the safety of event service providers and Rescue Water Craft operators, working hard and dedicated towards protecting their reputation, distributing safety information and continuing to train these amazing individuals to the highest standards of care.

Use at your own risk. Please take a qualified Rescue Water Craft training course and maintain proper records and respect all the PWC, RWC, PPE, and gear OEM manufacturer warning labels and cautions.

VHF Radio Use for Rescue Water Craft


Let’s take a very quick basic overview of the use and function of a Marine VHF radio analog technology. Keep in mind there is a lot more to know FOR VHF Radio use, so use this guide as a precursor for further educational benefits by conducting your own research. VHF band is by law intended for use by mariners.

TERMINOLOGY-Marine VHF radio refers to the radio frequency range between 156 and 174 MHz VHF signifies the ‘Very High Frequency’ of that range. So that leads to what is MHz? Megahertz is used to express microprocessor clock speed. The unit is occasionally used in measurements of bandwidth for high speed digital data, analog and digital video signals and spread spectrum signals.

International Distress, Safety and Calling. Ships required to carry radio, USCG, and most coast stations maintain a listening watch on this channel.

CHANNEL 16- Marine VHF radio Channel 16 (156.800 MHz) Boater Calling Channel (VHF Channel 9)
The Federal Communications Commission established VHF-FM channel 9 as a supplementary calling channel for noncommercial vessels (recreational boaters) at the request of the Coast Guard. A ship or shore unit wishing to call a boater would do so on channel 9, and anyone (boaters included) wishing to call a commercial ship or shore activity would continue to do so on channel 16. Recreational boaters would continue to call the Coast Guard and any commercial facility on channel 16.

The purpose of the FCC regulation was to relieve congestion on VHF channel 16, the distress, safety and calling frequency. FCC regulations require boaters having VHF radios to maintain a watch on either VHF channel 9 or channel 16, whenever the radio is turned on and not communicating with another station.

Since the Coast Guard generally does not have the capability of announcing an urgent marine information broadcast or weather warning on channel 9, use of channel 9 is optional. We recommend boaters normally keep tuned to and use channel 16 in those waters unless otherwise notified by the Coast Guard. Channel 16 is monitored by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and they will issue weather, hazards and restriction placed on navigation alerts when they are needed in your area of operation (AO). There are 50 different channels available with select defined roles by the FCC. Once contact is made on Channel 16 the USCG may redirect you to another channel.

Channel 16 should be monitored when you are underway in case a distress signal and request for emergency support is issued you can respond. Keep this channel open for those who truly are in need of lifesaving connectivity.


Procedure for Calling A Ship by Radio
You may use channel 16 to call a ship or shore station, but if you do so, you must, must be brief! We recommend this same procedure be used over channel 9, if channel 9 is used as a calling channel.

For example:

Blue Duck: "Mary Jane, this is Blue Duck" (the name of the vessel or MMSI being called may be said 2 or 3 times if conditions warrant)

Mary Jane: "Blue Duck, this is Mary Jane. Reply 68" (or some other proper working channel)

Blue Duck: "68" or "Roger"

MAYDAY Radio Checks and other Hoaxes
A growing number of boaters unsuccessful in getting a radio check on VHF channel 16 are calling MAYDAY to get a response. Every hoax, including MAYDAY radio checks, is subject to prosecution as a Class D felony under Title 14, Section 85 of the U.S. Code, liable for a $5000 fine plus all costs the Coast Guard incurs as a result of the individual's action. Since hoaxes can lead to loss of life, the Coast Guard and Federal Communications Commission will work closely together, using when necessary FCC equipment capable of identifying the electronic signature of the offending radio. We ask your cooperation in helping us and the FCC remove hoaxes from the VHF radiotelephone distress, safety and calling channel 16.

Radio Checks
Radio checks with the Coast Guard Communications Stations on DSC and HF radiotelephone are allowed.

ETIQUETTE - Do not use foul language, do not allow children to handle your Marine VHF radio but do teach them how to use it properly for an emergency distress call, it is not a toy, and is monitored for transmissions that are forbidden. Keep Channel 16 open for true emergencies. Know the channels and their complimentary functions.

But most importantly, know your radio! You may want to place in a waterproof bag, and not all of them float. So we operate with them affixed to the front of our lifejacket, but not near our chest, off towards our shoulders. Marine VHF is not for shore use only for on-water, if used on land you are in violation of the law unless you have a special permit.

Don’t hog a channel, be mindful others may need to use it, it’s not a social device for communication but is intended to support safety at sea and navigational needs.

BATTERY-They have a self-contained antenna and battery pack. Normal range of battery life is approximately 8 hours, but it depends, some claim 20 hours of use, but for me, it’s dependent on location, weather and use of the radio. Batteries can fail due to corrosion of it the case is cracked of the cover not secure. Also make sure you use the proper charger and follow the charging instructions.


VISUALS-Being able to see the display helps to know which channel you are on. You can lock the channel in as well, we use iCom radios. Dot Matrix Display is helpful when choosing the menu functions, over a standard 7 segment LCD display. Dot Matrix pixilation count is rated for its screen resolution. Some are backlit brighter than others and the buttons as well.

GLOBAL-Some of the radios have a built in GPS that can send to the USCG your exact position in case of emergency. This provides you your Latitude and Longitude position. You can used stored waypoints with this feature for navigation. Some radios have Digital Selective Calling (DSC), it’s similar to using a device like Spot Locators as an emergency beacon. You just have to push down on a button usually lit as a red or orange emergency distress and it will send an automated digital distress message to the USCG and others vessels with radios in the vicinity. Channel 70 is Note that channel 70 is now authorized only for Digital Selective Calling, an emergency automated distress system mandated by international treaty; channel 70 may no longer be used for voice communication

This feature is great because you can store your emergency contacts. Some radios have other accessories such as different battery types or headsets. You can use your radio to hail Towing companies such as Vessel Assist, which is more reliable than using a cell phone due to dropped calls and on-water range, waterproofing and battery life.
K38 recommends you have a separate GPS tracking device. In case one fails you have a backup.



WATTAGE-There are limitations of range due to a transmit power of six watts. This is why you see some RWC operators in calmer waterways adding a larger external antenna to transmit from a high location. For our Rescue Water Craft use you can average a five watt transmit power to work at three to eight miles of range with variables. Switching to some models using higher watt output you may drain your battery quicker, so be careful on your settings.

Recreational Marine VHF radios for recreational boaters are limited to output of 25 watts so transmitters cannot be boosted and operate on a line of sight between stations, the higher the atenna the better the result. However our handhelds are limited.

BATTERY LIFE-Radio manufactures have a generic recommendation for battery life. 90% standby, 5% to receive and 5% to transmit at high power. Read the owner’s manual and you can have great tutorials on your specific brand model.

By having your radio with you on your person you can communicate when away from your Rescue Water Craft, which is a great safety feature for yourself as the Operator or Crew. Even better if the vessel capsizes and you are separated from the RWC you have a safety threshold to hail for assistance.

CAREFUL-Do not drop your radio! This is how irreversible damage occurs and can render the radio dead. Also any strikes to helm while underway can damage the lens or the housing and destroy your radio, so use due care! Never store your radio inside the glove box or any other compartment without completely protecting your radio from strike damage and breakage!

Make sure you use silicone grease to maintain an anti-corrosion base your battery housing for water or condensation inside the housing, mainly near the battery cover opening and the buttons and the antenna base. Apply silicone weekly to the battery terminals. Make sure the radio is dry before placing in charger.

Do not bend the antenna! If the rubber is cracked, replaced the antenna immediately.

Rinse with fresh water! What I like to do is to evacuate the water from the microphone and button areas to try to reduce the signature of corrosion. Conduct a final post inspection by opening up the battery case and look for condensation or water invasion, cracks in the case and be sure to use silicone grease to maintain anti-corrosion practices.

CHECK! If you want to hail a second Rescue Water Craft or vessel here is some advice:

1. Before you splash your RWC, make sure your radio is fully charged.
2. Power your Radio ‘on’.
3. Set your volume and squelch buttons.
4. Conduct a Radio Check on Channel 9 (noncommercial and non-emergency channel)
5. Make sure you are both operating on the same radio channel, Ch. 1078 is good for some areas if there is not a lot of traffic, but then switch back to 16 when underway to listen for emergencies
6. You can also monitor your local weather broadcasts on your VHF radio
7. Push down the mic key for clearance to talk, it’s usually located on the side of the radio, then send your message and depress the key button.
8. Hail the second RWC pressing the mic key and holding it by stating the vessel name twice, followed by your vessels name: “K38 one, K38 one, this is K38 two on Channel 1078, over” release the key.
9. Once contact is made, and our conversation is completed “K38 two returning to standby Channel 16 or K38 two out”. Do not say ‘over out’.
10. Channel 9 is designated for the boat calling channel (156.450 MHz)

Don't leave shore without your VHF Radio


1. Securite-Securite-Securite: Warns crew or others about important safety information. Also used to issue warnings and meteorological updates. Such as towing someone with restricted maneuverability and you want others to avoid you.

2. Pan-Pan-Pan: Urgent situation but not at imminent risk. You are in moderate risk, and a hazard to navigation

3. Mayday-Mayday-Mayday: SOS distress signal. Sets Search and Rescue (SAR) in motion. Life threatening situation. You are going down, you have lost a man overboard or you are heading to the beach or rocks, imminent danger.

During emergencies we can rely on our volunteer Ham radio operators. Ham radio operators using their frequency will state ‘Break-Break-Break’ as the equivalent to a Mayday call, never use the term ‘Break’ unless imminent threat to property or life is present.

Global Maritime Distress & Safety System

VHF maritime channel 70 (156.525 MHz) is authorized exclusively for distress, safety and calling purposes using digital selective calling (DSC) techniques. No other uses are permitted.

Channel 70 is used to send distress alerts, safety announcements and for calling purposes under the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS). Many vessels are now equipped with DSC capability and are using channel 70 for this purpose. It is essential that this channel be protected.

Storm Warnings?
The Coast Guard announces storm warnings and other urgent marine information broadcasts on VHF channel 16 before making the broadcasts on VHF channel 22A and 2670 kHz respectively. Storm warnings and forecasts are also made by NOAA Weather Radio.


Channel 16
International Distress, Safety and Calling. Ships required to carry radio, USCG, and most coast stations maintain a listening watch on this channel.

Channel 70
Digital Selective Calling (voice communications not allowed)

Channel 1078
Non-Commercial. VDSMS (USA Great Lakes commercial channels 1079, 1080)

USCG INFORMATION: Frequencies are in MHz. Modulation is 16KF3E or 16KG3E.
Note that the four digit channel number beginning with the digits "10" indicates simplex use of the ship station transmit side of what had been an international duplex channel. These new channel numbers, now recognized internationally, were previously designated in the US by the two digit channel number ending with the letter "A".

That is, the international channel 1005 has been designated in the US by channel 05A, and the US Coast Guard channel 1022 has been designated in the US as channel 22A. Four digit channels beginning with "20", sometimes shown by the two-digit channel number ending with the letter "B", indicates simplex use of the coast station transmit side of what normally was an international duplex channel. The U.S. does not currently use "B" or "20NN" channels in the VHF maritime band. Some VHF transceivers are equipped with an "International - U.S." switch to avoid conflicting use of these channels. See ITU Radio Regulation Appendix 18 and ITU-R M.1084-5 Annex 4.

These new channel numbers should eventually begin to be displayed on new models of VHF marine radios.
Boaters should normally use channels listed as Non-Commercial. Channel 16 is used for calling other stations or for distress alerting. Channel 13 should be used to contact a ship when there is danger of collision. All ships of length 20m or greater are required to guard VHF channel 13, in addition to VHF channel 16, when operating within U.S. territorial waters. Users may be fined by the FCC for improper use of these channels.

USCG Website


Published: August 28, 2018
Updated: February 11, 2019 (special thanks to Rene Haar for a suggested correction)

Have any questions? Join the Rescue Water Craft Association
and discover what your community is doing to modernize standards, safety and reduce liability!
Join the Rescue Water Craft Association

Content Creator: Shawn Alladio cares most about her community and the culture surrounding the safety of event service providers and Rescue Water Craft operators, working hard and dedicated towards protecting their reputation, distributing safety information and continuing to train these amazing individuals to the highest standards of care.

Use at your own risk. Please take a qualified Rescue Water Craft training course and maintain proper records and respect all the PWC, RWC, PPE, and gear OEM manufacturer warning labels and cautions.