Swimmers in Distress
After your personal safety, next is the safety of swimmers. It is critical that we scan the water constantly for signs that a swimmer may be in distress. Swimmers that stop often or have an irregular rhythm to their stroke should be watched carefully and if necessary talked to in order to determine the severity of the issue. They may simply be unhappy, don't have their breathing under control, or they threw up or swallowed water, a mild cramp, or are simply cold. These swimmers may hold on to the front or back of your craft (never the side) until they are ready to resume. They will not be disqualified as long as you don't tow them. Talk to the swimmer calmly and reassure them. This event should be fun and any pressure from participation should be relieved.
If you find a swimmer in distress, immediately paddle over and determine severity. By asking their name and the date, listening for slurred speech or incoherent answers, you can get a sense of hypothermia. Swimmers that panic and grab the side of your craft or have chest pain are perhaps injured by another swimmer's kick or the jump into the bay, a debilitating muscle cramp, or asthma and need their inhaler. These swimmers need immediate medical attention.
This where you raise your paddle vertically and give three short blasts on your whistle. If you have a radio, call for medical assistance and give your location in the pack, front, back, or middle and at which side. Stay with the swimmer until the medical boat arrives, and only then rejoin the swimmers. If a paddle goes up without having a radio, the nearest paddlers should notify any paddler with a radio and report the paddle up sign. If a call goes out for a medical response, cease all radio traffic until the medical boat has located the swimmer and given the all clear.