Rescue Water Craft Dead Zone

The 'Dead Zone' is an area astern of the third seated position of the Rescue Water Craft (RWC). It incorporates the stern eye area, stern deck and the re-boarding handle and is referred to when using a TAD.

This area is one to observe for safety due to the range of motion between the Rescue Water Craft and the Towable Aquaplane Device (TAD-Rescue Board). This area is a location that we are aware of regarding a variety of movements and therefore have termed it the 'dead zone', meaning this is an area we try not to make physical contact with our hands and are mindful of body placement. It is a 'no go' area.

We utilize a developmental attitude of behavior regarding body placement on a TAD and try our best to minimize contact areas and hazards with a concerted awareness of possible strike zones, both from using a TAD and on board the RWC.

Be aware that not all operational situations will be possible to maintain efficiency in body placement or range of motion. These are best determined by the Coxswain training level, instructional content and familiarity with weather, vessel, TAD and not limited to being able to define the forces of action and range of motion and the objectives of training.

This requires of Coxswains and Crew members to have professional understanding and behavioral training regarding this risk area.

Items to consider during training with a TAD:

1. Type of RWC and TAD
2. Conditions of water and weather
3. Communications between Coxswain/Crew and training goals
4. Review, correction and counseling of supervisor and/or Coxswain/crew operations
5. Speed of the craft and turning radius applied with associated weight distribution on the TAD
6. TAD connectivity

It is impossible to cover everything we would normally prescribe in our training program for student candidates. We can give you some ideas to ponder and size up against common sense and water safety. Let's dig in!

Rescue Boards rest on the top transom stern deck and centerline connection point from the bow of the Towable Aquaplane
Device (TAD-Rescue Board) is typically affixed to the RWC stern eye.

We do not add any additional hardware to the upper RWC deck due to vessel and passenger safety. We would not advise
agencies or personnel to drill holes through the RWC hull and add additional bow eyes to the top deck. Especially if
working in flood environments or drawing bodies over these areas.

These could become strike points, facial contact, create entanglement or entrapment, wrap long hair (scalping) or garments and cause breaks/fractures/amputations of fingers if rings are worn.

Port and Starboard side rescue board tether points generally are affixed to the trailer tie down eye points underneath the RWC top deck bond line. The trailer tie down eyes are actually a very strong tow point, but rarely is there direct load on these two points. Generally there is a giveway or slack and shock effect depending upon the style of board, the interface of connectivity and the amount of weight pushing downward with gravitational force.

Rescue boards are not floating per se, they are dragging, pivoting, rising and lowering. They are a towable aquaplane device that rests semi forward on the stern deck of a Rescue Water Craft.

There is a pitch upward and downward at the fulcrum point of interface between the rescue board bottom deck. There is also interface of the bow tether point that can crease the topside of the rescue board if too much force is applied or if pinned against a fixed object or rolled such as in waves. Always touch check and visibly inspect your rescue board and retire when needed.

When in a training environment we coach our students as role players to understand the risks to bodily injury using a TAD such as placing their head when lying in a prone face down position to port or starboard astern of the craft and to monitor survivors body positioning or changing positions while underway.

When underway in the same fashion changes of body position will occur with the interface between water movement and Coxswain helms control and trim. There is not a lot of deck space however we have studied the most practical methods by observing RWC, board, water and human movements and have determined that the 'dead zone' is a clear reminder for personal safety.

It's easy to say and clear to remember. This is a non-operative area. No hands should be in this area between the board and the boat, these are pinch points due to the lifting up and downward motions between the two leverage points.

This takes some time for students to incorporate into their training skillsets, this does not happen as a behavior during their first rotation. It takes many reminders and self assessment to correct and enable the safety behaviors. These corrections can be mere inches and change while underway due to vessel movement or body positioning.

It is important to consider anchor points, handheld points, foot wedges (not entrapment) and the pivot or sway of the rescue board. This does not mean they are gaining any visual capabilities. This is a measure to protect the head from either lifting and rising, or dropping and striking the ‘Dead Zone’ area in case of mishap.

There are a lot of contributing factors. Video review of incorrect and correct methods may assist you in understanding the risks and determining what would be the best course of action with the make and model of RWC and board. This is a difficult discussion to harness without proper coaching, so do not use all of this as a set in stone way of operating. There are many contributing actions that apply, such as operator and crew knowledge, Rescue Board inspection, RWC inspection and a firm understanding of the waterway you will be training and working under. And then, add pressure of a real life situation.

This is also a safety consideration during transport of survivors. Another rule we would like you to consider along with the 'dead zone' is a safe speed transport set at about 25 miles per hour. There are many technical needs, so don't fixate on just one, we teach hundreds of variations that enable the operators to select their underway options.

Don't forget that wise saying 'where the head goes the body follows'.

Use Common Sense, Evaluate, Study, Learn and Correct


Let's recap:

1. Do not add hardware to the RWC top deck where bodies come in contact
2. Observe the Dead Zone area astern and be mindful of points of contact
3. Safe Speeds Underway (25 mph rule), crew communicates with Coxswain is speed is determined unsafe
4. Coxswains maintain a level, steady and stable RWC at all times, Crew maintains the efficiency use of survivor loading and
underway security and secures the final stop measures
5. Observe counterbalance measures between the RWC and TAD and Persons on Board (POB).

We spend a lot of focus time to work with rescue boards to gain understanding in simple physics, vessel/board type, water dynamics and operator technical abilities. We want our Coxswains and Crew to be 100% responsible for their underway actions. We believe this is possible with a strong mindset, knowledge base and policies that work for success of the mission.

The Dead Zone is a reminder that this area is not a safe zone for us, to respect our board and rescue board use, and we must be mindful of potential impact or strike zones when operating in dynamic conditions other than calm water.

Speed is a critical component of professional marine units, safe operations mean Safe Coxswains and Crew who maintain a safe and successful program!

There are typically three ways of operations for crew to consider and train under until familiarization occurs:

1. Laying prone face down on a TAD
2. Layering weight and body positions on a TAD (multiple persons on board)
3. Kneeling-bracing position on TAD as Crew
4. Sitting position on RWC stern seat

Please consider taking a class and find out what you do not know!

It's far less expensive than the long rough road of mishap review and repair.

We hope to see you in a class!

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.



Helm Safety is Security Underway.

I would advise all of Rescue Water Craft crews, teams and operators to never strap anything down on top of the Rescue Water Craft handlebars (helm) that places direct and consistent pressure against the helm station.

Rescue Water Craft helms do not have the structural strength in storage or transport to maintain a weight load placed up against them, let alone any ratchet cargo straps pressing down.

Disregarding the structural strength of the helm and over bearing a significant weight load against it could lead to a catastrophic failure of the helm.

Resulting in a serious mishap, injury or fatality.

Also to note that the rear stern re-boarding handle is also plastic and can suffer damage as well.

A rule of thumb? If you capsize your Rescue Water Craft and it heels over upside down in shallow waters, when you right it, check the re-boarding handle, rear seats and helm, forward cowling, turn the helm and pull back throttle and inspect the steering nozzle before you start the craft.

This typically happens because of a lack of education regarding the care and maintenance of the overall craft itself. A simple solution would be to have every member of your team read the Owner's Manual warnings and cautions of the Make, Model and Year of Production of your Rescue Water Craft.

Sheared off Helm


Not all of the steering column necks are not metal fabrication unless you have an afermarket one designed for race builds. Construction can be a combination plastic and metal and both can receive stress fractures from objects that produce repetitive movement, such as air pushing against an IRB and creating a bounce affect with a downward force towards the Rescue Water Craft.

This could also be caused by a poorly maintained trailer where the trailer bunks are failing or the axle, tires and wheels are overloaded with more weight than their rating or the tongue weight is incorrect.

1. Protect the helm
2. Protect the handlebar grips to not cause rotation which can result in wrist flexion
3. Protect the throttle lever and clutch lever (port/starboard helm sides)

The only way you can inspect the helm after a transport such as this showed in the header photo is to remove the shroud and inspect the entire steering assembly closely and even then, maybe not.

First care is to protect the helm and the water jet pump because of their relationship values, inspect your throttle lever and don't allow any lines near it, that could be a fatal mistake.

You don't want to be underway and have your helm shear off when hand hold forces are applied and it let's go, loss of steerage and stopping distance to fixed objects or other crews cannot be controlled at this point, and the operator and or crew could be ejected.

This could become a serious situation if ignored due to not understanding the craft, not knowing its construction design and not having enough storage for ancillary gear.

Remember, you are a mariner, not a rescuer!

Don't get it backwards! Repeat after me: I am a mariner.

Know your boat as a prudent mariner and care for them as you care for yourself; rescue is an application of our maritime community. It is one facet of operations. If you consider yourself a rescuer first you are going to experience many mishaps and chronic failures of your Rescue Water Craft Program.

Recommendation: Deflate the hypalon tubes for the IRB and set your gear up on site instead, don't compromise your boats. Don't strap anything above the helm station. Take a RWC maintenance course, check ours out!

Ask me how I know? lol


Posted: 9.14.2018

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.

USCG Alert Issued Regarding LED Lighting

August 15, 2018 Safety Alert 13-18

Washington, DC

Let us enlighten you about LED lighting!

Potential interference of VHF-FM Radio and AIS Reception.

The U.S. Coast Guard has received reports from crews, ship owners, inspectors and other mariners regarding poor reception on VHF frequencies used for radiotelephone, digital selective calling (DSC) and automatic identification systems (AIS) when in the vicinity of light emitting diode (LED) lighting on-board ships (e.g., navigation lights, searchlights and floodlights, interior and exterior lights, adornment).

Radio frequency interference caused by these LED lamps were found to create potential safety hazards. For example, the maritime rescue coordination center in one port was unable to contact a ship involved in a traffic separation scheme incident by VHF radio. That ship also experienced very poor AIS reception. Other ships in different ports have experienced degradation of the VHF receivers, including AIS, caused by their LED navigation lights. LED lighting installed near VHF antennas has also shown to compound the reception.

Strong radio interference from LED sources may not be immediately evident to maritime radio users. Nonetheless, it may be possible to test for the presence of LED interference by using the following procedures:

1. Turn off LED light(s).
2. Tune the VHF radio to a quiet channel (e.g. Ch. 13).
3. Adjust the VHF radio’s squelch control until the radio outputs audio noise.
4. Re-adjust the VHF radio’s squelch control until the audio noise is quiet, only slightly above the noise threshold.

Safety Alert 13-18

5. Turn on the LED light(s).

If the radio now outputs audio noise, then the LED lights have raised the noise floor. (Noise floor is generally the amount of interfering signals / static received beyond the specific signal or channel being monitored.)

6. If the radio does not output audio noise, then the LED lights have not raised the noise floor.

If the noise floor is found to have been raised, then it is likely that both shipboard VHF marine radio and AIS reception are being degraded by LED lighting.

In order to determine the full impact of this interference, the Coast Guard requests those experiencing this problem to report their experiences to Coast Guard Navigation Center1. Select “Maritime Telecommunications” on the subject drop down list, then briefly describe the make and model of LED lighting and radios effected, distance from lighting to antennas and radios effected, and any other information that may help understand the scope of the problem.

This Safety Alert is provided for informational purposes only and does not relieve any domestic or international safety, operational, or material requirement. Developed by the U.S. Coast Guard, Spectrum Management and Telecommunications Policy Division.

Distributed by the Office of Investigations and Analysis.

Questions may be sent to