As Rescue Water Craft Coxswains, leaders or instructors, our goal is not to cause harm.

This means our training program needs to be inspected, reviewed and careful consideration and care used to implement the best practices. PROGRAM EVALUATION

We need to set success through the measure of producing competency and program security along with training accordingly. And we need to enforce that like mad!

What is always relative? History is relative. We tend not to learn from history until it becomes our own.

So how do we incorporate the lessons they learned? We must study and we must listen!

Let us go back in time.

It is 1934. Tyrolean climbers Aschenbrenner and Schneider make an attempt summit at Nanga Parbat in the Himalayans.

This mountain is the 9th highest on Earth.

Six Sherpas lost their lives and their names do not stand out in history.

Ego and National pride carry as high a price as that we find in the Rescue Water Craft community. Be proud of accomplishments, but first be prepared to ensure their success.

Tse Tso is a saying ‘Long Life’ and Pasang Picture Sherpa saved his life through the determination of this mindset during a snowstorm. He was at high altitude when abandoned by his employers to fend for himself with 2 of his fellow Porters.

This action meant certain death on the mountain. He had a choice to make. Give up and surrender to fate or to take action. The problem he faced was he was not taught to lead and was not equipped to do so.

He decided at that moment to take the lead and endure into the unknown.

Let us not forget the hard lessons of all pioneers, survivors and the dead.

This is where ‘lessons learned’ comes into play and how we often ignored the warning signs. We could extract thousands of these incidents that any of us could determine our best route forward.


The need for support staff was critical to success in mountaineering at this level. How we as humans treated one another then was reciprocal for the history of those times.

However, for us in 2019 we can revisit and learn from this tragedy. A significant cultural detraction was the ‘Sahibs’ did not train their ‘Porters’ to be climbers. They did not outfit them with appropriate climbing gear or enough caloric intake.

There was a disconnect between the two groups and the porters (Sherpas) suffered greatly for this.

Aschenbrenne and Schneider abandoned 3 Sherpas on a descent leaving them and speeding off on skis. Pasang Picture realized he would have to take the lead to bring down Nima Dorje and Pinzo Norbu to basecamp IV.

This was not exclusive to the German group in the formative years of climbing the Himalayas; many nations have gone to the Himalayans not respecting the capabilities of the Sherpas as climbers but simple carriers of equipment for logistical support. Budget with many events has placed safety in the back row for decades.

What is the parallel for today?

Do not think that your mechanic is not important to your RWC program. They are on that boat with you! If you are not able to tell effectively your mechanic what the problems are how can they make an efficient assessment and repair?

In 2019 for climbing change is championed from Nepalese climber Nirmal Purja, and partners Mingma David Sherpa and Gesman Tamang summited Everest of Project Possible:


Sherpas have climbed the Himalayas more than any other group in the world, but have lain mainly in the shadows of mountaineering history. Project Possible broke that barrier and shattered it.

Change is a struggle. We are not our great grandparents and we do not live in those times. We are in a time of great prosperity and reduction of poverty worldwide. We have opportunity and luxury. Anyone can be great if they put their mind to it and follow suit.

We have opportunity, ability to travel, and the incredible asset of using the internet to learn faster, unite with new Rescue Water Craft partners, use translation services to communicate and share content and inspiration.

We are witness to the rapid increase of a unique small power craft that I set out to revolutionize training worldwide. I did not know this alone. Thousands of people are the impetus of this success. The internet is making that happen for all of us. The obscurity of anonymity has passed.

I myself believe I am a guide for others as a Subject Matter Expert in the Personal Water Craft community. I am the voice for those who are behind the scenes, in our past history and guiding you to take the lead now and in the future.

I could have all the answers in the room, but if a water rescue mob doesn’t want that, we could revert back to a tragedy like the one in 1934 or any known Rescue Water Craft fatality.

Why is this? Not listening to the lessons learned of our forefathers and foremothers who pioneered the RWC capacity and averted disaster. We are still alive, striving for Tse Tso, nobody dies.


In the early years of the 1970’s to the 80’s the Personal Water Craft water safety crew coined a few terms I will share with you:

1. A Moment for Safety will Save a Lifetime of Regret – ‘Brian Bendix’
2. Nobody Dies – USJSBA/IJSBA Course Marshals – ‘Brad Southworth, Ronny Kling, Steve Strickland, Willy’

These men paid attention and were not concerned about safety, they planned for it with strategy. They had much less then you do today for assets. You may not have been born in 1974, so learn to respect those who handed the baton into your lane.

The 1934 expedition is where Ang Tsering Sherpa and Pasang Painter Sherpa became mountaineers and were no longer just Porters. They became lifesavers.

Ask yourself this: How would you manage the death of your Crew while you were navigating on the water? What would you do next?

The names of the dead Sherpas are not mentioned in history like the leads and nations who funded those climbs.

The Germans did not share the details of what happened those 7 days of survival on the mountain. The Sherpa voices were private and reserved, their version reserved in the faded distance.

Many climbers died from decisions that were made before they stepped foot on the mountain. The same parallel happens in the Rescue Water Craft community. Some of this was economic, poor planning, bad weather or an incomplete team.

Likewise, Coxswains and Crew have died because their training was not secure for safety. How would you value their sacrifice?

The storm they encountered on Nanga Parbat that began on July 7, 1934 at the Silver Saddle shares with us valuable lessons of leadership, organization, training and what training produces; safety.

The vetting system of a Rescue Water Craft team is critical. The knowledge base and equipment must be reliant and the equipment ready for the field.

Many Rescue Water Craft programs have insufficient equipment and are ill prepared to succeed in 2019. Even though we began our Rescue Water Craft outreach in 1974 in the USA.

I have witnessed Rescue Water Craft programs where the Crew Members are treated as a second-class citizen. Sometimes they are referred to as ‘rescue swimmers’ but in our maritime culture they are Crew members. This is dangerous.

Why is it dangerous you may wonder? If a Rescue Water Craft Coxswain is injured, knocked off the RWC or has died, the Crew person must take their position and do so with competence.

And during the struggle they may need to recover or rescue their teammate or survivors in the water and finish the recovery to the end point of transfer.

Crew must possess the same skills and knowledge base as the Coxswain. This is a close quarter boat for persons on board, everyone is part of the stability or instability of the craft underway to some extent.

Those not in the lead may not give credit to those in the flanks.

1. Prepare an effective vetting program for all participants, ensure their physical and mental strength is adequate
2. Monitor Weather and water conditions underway
3. Prepare properly Personal Protective Equipment
4. Inspect and maintain the vessel according to the manufacturer specifications
5. Train like your life and others depend upon it
6. Assess and remedy any necessary corrections that are discovered
7. Investigate mishaps and revise training or program management immediately
8. Clearly define your area of operation, seasonally, daily or with disasters in mind. Set limits.
9. Proper budget needed to maintain a marine unit

A Rescue Water Craft is a boat. It is not a cheap excuse to rescue or a shortcut.

It is not an inexpensive boat. It is a high-performance craft that requires proper funds, professional maintenance (monthly and annual) necessary to maintain a sufficient program for each craft.

If you or your organization is not treating your RWC program like a boat marine unit, close it down immediately. Do not proceed! Get off the boat and restructure your maritime program.

That mountain is waiting for the storm to show you where your problems are and it may very well take life. At that point you cannot afford the program you should have put in place before tragedy strikes.

My friend Lee Selman sent me this book ‘Tigers of the Snow’, written by Jonathan Neale.

The perspective of culture, lifesaving and information is a must read.

You will discover how the narrative of truth can become a Long Life (Tse Tso), or lead to certain death by personal volition.

We choose. Choose this book and gain insight into training, communication, planning and strategy and why it must be purposeful:


While you are at it, look up the history of the Sherpas and their contributions. We honor those pioneers and preserve their history. All lifesavers are unique souls who would give their life for others. This crosses all disciplines and mediums, earth, sky or water.

Things are getting better. People are humbling themselves to address the problems they have occurred. These assessments are working. Encourage one another to continue to foster developing our Rescue Water Craft culture.

Do not remain silent when a mishap occurs, dig in, expose the problems and save the life of yourself or a teammate.

That is the answer.


Posted: August 13, 2019

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



The deliberation to not act and go against standards of care, or the best practice is a serious violation of trust. Both personal, and public.

What motivates people to accept cutting corners, excuses, lack of leadership, budget and fatigue of not driving a program to successful completion?

Routines can be familiar but when one operator in a crew decides to deviate from the practices that were put in place, they open the liability door. Somebody pays the price. Others hide and live with grief and regret.

Sometimes personal character of an individual supersedes the motivation to serve the public instead of serving oneself. Manipulating a system for ulterior reasons, that are personal and not for the oath of service.

 When was the last time a mishap was reviewed in your department or group?
 How was the process engaged?
 Did you permit an outside subject matter expert to evaluate the data?
 Was the information distributed to enact change and address the identifiable issues?
 When a mishap occurs the obvious is determined. What did the operator, crew, mechanic or instructor miss?

Reputation can be evaluated on social media in a viral scope from all corners of the world and reference posters who may never have operated a Rescue Water Craft. Those posts will last a career span. Oftentimes they point out things that operators obviously missed, and its repeated hundreds of times, or memes and gifs go viral.

Many of the mishaps I review through social media had definite steps of setting up the accident that were clearly avoidable. But if the team instructor is not trained properly, and the student follows the same advice from the instructor, and there is no determination to challenge the training methods, it’s inevitable. Is this what people line up for?

Accidents, how often do we say ‘preventable’? It’s comedic, like ‘don’t do drugs’, or ‘don’t drive drunk’, or ‘turn around don’t drown’, phrases that have effect but are not practiced to stop the flow of risk. What does risk management mean? Safety is not a word, it is a way of being.

Many agencies should not have RWC programs. They are not ready. They have not conducted proper homework and they do not have the appropriate budget. But mainly they do not respect the craft or the usage.

Oftentimes those who created mishaps are rewarded with medals of heroism. This protects the mishaps from gifting the reward of progress and reducing risk for the next mission. In fact it enables the next disaster to go into effect.

Rescue Water Craft Training for Night Qualification


Personalities are selected through a vetting process to match up to a specific job description, attitude and capability. They are put through paces, educated, corrected and evaluated to see if they have what it takes to qualify. Or not.

There are definite draws to the various water rescue disciplines from a variety of agency personnel from military to lifesaving. Certain personality types are easier to lead into excellence, while others may be less mature, or disciplined. Most of that is from peer influence and personal influences of upbringing, values, culture and spiritual commitments.

Some rescue minded persons are motivated to excel for personal gain, team effort, community support, private psychological drive and stacking up a value to the worth behind effort and the altruistic or personal rewards.

Experience and perspective come into play with the hours in the field, research and study, practice and industriousness. A conscientious person will pay attention to fulfillment of the mission full circle. Industrious people work very hard and can be irritated with the unproductive team members.

Sharing the labor load of the rescue scene is a conscientious person is going to work really hard, put in very long hours and be the last to leave. Persons who are orderly like to have everything in order and are always cleaning up behind everyone else, usually women tend to fill that role.

Sometimes they are over concerned about details and they may be disappointed in the personalities who are productive because they may be making more of a mess. Know how to orchestrate agreeable persons and disagreeable persons to try to balance out the complexities of teamwork.

Personal traits are a big source of conflict in teams. This can relate to mission work in tension, conflict and friction.

Knowing the various personalities it is imperative to place tested persons who thrived in the specific roles needed. For instance: It is important for an RWC Operator to be comfortable in the water they work in. If they are not comfortable, it may be time to replace this operator and bring them to shore support.

How do you identify a mishap or rate accidents? Moderate to significant or got lucky?

Oftentimes after reviewing serious mishaps that I know were preventable, I have to say, how could this department not recognize the potential for harm?

It usually comes down to a lack of boating knowledge. They may have knowledge that is excellent in other stages of rescue, but when it comes to operating or implementing a power water craft program, they have assessed a casual program when in fact this is a high risk marine operation.

Who are your Subject Matter Experts? How were they tested and selected? What world experience do they have that is recent within the past 30 days and 30 years?

Oftentimes when I review a program, the organization was not prepared to have a marine unit. They lacked knowledge of the craft, maintenance schedules and budget. But mainly they lacked follow through after training to ensure their program was sustainable.

Acquiring a certificate will not protect you. The entire program needs to be reviewed annually. All mishaps must be reviewed and adjusted. Outside sources should be sought for additional knowledge based on modernizing any loopholes. Personal Protective Equipment has to be effective and replaced as needed along with RWC accessory devices.

Boating rules and regulations are constantly broken by public safety agencies using Rescue Water Craft. Lifejackets are not worn, rules of the road and not utilized, boating basics are not incorporated properly. Most of this is because training programs are outdated and incomplete.

Who is the program instructor and who backs their certification. Did your department determine if their certification was current and verifiable? Who wrote their training program, what type of craft and program management needs were resourced? How was this data entered and how is the program monitored and by whom?

How are the operators evaluated and why is their certification not revoked from a mishap and they get rolled back to training? How is the discipline process protected for teams, and who is the person monitoring and enforcing the program?

Rescue Board Training and Inspection

The community is fragmented by not conducted effective research. Instructors are self-proclaimed, self appointed or appointed by the agency and not evaluated annually. Instructors need to be assessed annually. Where does a RWC operator go for new content? Are they stepping outside their domain and going to where the value structure is: private enterprise.

People like to belong to something. They will affiliate with personalities that correspond with their own. Sometimes this is negative instead of creative. Creatures of comfort may protect hubris and not allow the science of physics to advance our culture.

Are you willing to let one of your team mates die and possibly yourself? Forget about the survivor, lets talk about the team. You cannot afford to be rescued during a rescue. How valuable is your career and reputation to you and your family? If you start with these simple values and expand them, it will be much easier to tune a program.

The Rescue Water Craft Association (RWCA) is the sole governing body for the RWC community. There is no other sole source that offers advances in the generation of knowledge. Others are taking micro steps. The best predictor for structure and rules applied comes from not only pioneers but those connected to the industry and a variety of water way needs, agency perspectives and direction.

The RWCA is our community peer group, it scales iinternationally. What we do is dangerous. It’s extremely dangerous. Think about it and let that sink in. Once you surrender to the risk involved it will be easier to being the process of engaging this risk to mitigate the flaws that exist and to clearly determine where they are and what can happen.

Because You Care.


Document Your RWC Program Results