Water Rescue, Retrieval, Recovery

Many times the words “rescue”, “retrieval” and “recovery” are used synonymous with each other when describing the action of bringing a fall overboard victim back to the boat commonly referred to as man overboard training. However, depending on who is bringing the fall overboard victim back to the boat and the condition of that fall overboard victim, the words “Rescue”, “Retrieval”, “Recovery” take on different meaning.

At Emerald Marine Products we actually take these words very seriously and have developed a water rescue dummy specific to the needs of the training operation, sometimes referred to as “Oscar Training’.

The word “Retrieval” signifies the first action of a man overboard training operation. The assumption is that someone has fallen into the water and person(s) on the vessel they just fell of need to “Retrieve” that person. So the team begins a retrieval process by knowing how to get the fall overboard victim back to the boat (maneuvering boat, or throwing a device that the victim can hold onto or be captured by). Once the person is near the boat, the retrieval process requires getting them out of the water and onto the boat. This may require a lifting device or brute strength to lift them out of the water. Easier said than done, correct? Hence the need to train for these type of situations.

The word “Rescue” comes after a successful Retrieval. What determines success? Actually getting the fall overboard victim safely out of the water and back onto the boat. Our OSCAR – Water Rescue Training Dummy (part number OT100) serves the purpose of practicing a retrieval so it becomes a successful rescue. When easily assembled, the OSCAR mannequin is six foot in height and when the bladders are filled with water, oscar weigh can be up to 180 pounds, providing a very realistic water retrieval situation.

“Recovery” is used in the event that the retrieval is not successful. The person who fell overboard was lost or drowned before a successful retrieval was performed. Though this term is not used lightly, it is a training required by many First Responder agencies to practice the undesirable job of finding and recovering a drowned victim. In the event of a Recovery training scenario you actually want the “victim” to be fully submerged. Emerald Marine Products manufactures a “Recovery” mannequin that unlike the Water Rescue Training Dummy, where the head and arms will float, can be filled completely filled with water to sink. The OSCAR – Water Retrieval Dummy (part number OT200) is available exclusively through our dealer Landfall Rescue. If your training organization does not need a full-time recovery dummy, the OSCAR – Water Rescue Training Dummy (OT100) can be outfitted with weights to sink the unit. Simply attach at least 40 pounds of weights to the stainless steel mid-section bolt of the rescue mannequin.

Our OSCAR training dummies have been used in scores of training operations. Some operations don’t involve a “victim.” Recently Virginia Tech University used our OSCAR mannequin to float highly sensitive instrumentation to collect data on a research project they are conducting for monitoring tracking agents in water to aid in research on hazardous spills and search and rescue.

Whether your needs require retrieval, rescue, recovery or to simulate an adult human being in water environments that may be unsafe for a real person, our OSCAR – Water Rescue Training Dummy (versions OT100 or OT200) may be just the solution to your training/experiment needs.

OSCAR – Water Rescue Training Dummy available in two colors.


Instructors Agree on OSCAR Water-Rescue Training Dummy

Recovering someone who has fallen into the water is no easy task, especially if the victim is unconscious or lethargic due to cold temperatures. Training is essential to prepare potential rescuers for how difficult it can actually be. The OSCAR Water-Rescue Training Dummy™ from Emerald Marine Products is used by safety instructors across North America for teaching people what it’s like to retrieve a lifeless, 180 lb. adult.

“It’s definitely eye-opening,” says Alaska Marine Safety Education Association (AMSEA) instructor and US Coast Guard civilian commercial fishing vessel safety examiner Steve Kee. “It drives the point home that it’s not easy to yank a crewmember back on board.”

US Code of Federal Regulations 28.270 calls for those in charge of a commercial fishing vessel to conduct monthly safety drills to ensure everyone is familiar with their duties, including recovering someone from the water. Kee provides the 10- and 18-hour USCG-accepted drill conductor training to those who will oversee the monthly training sessions.

Atlantic Beach Rescue department chief Jonathan Kohan agrees. “From a command and control perspective, you want to train like you operate. It’s hard to put rescuers in real time situations when they haven’t trained in critical mass. It’s very different than lifting a straw or Styrofoam dummy.”

Situated on a barrier island, the small community of Atlantic Beach, New York, swells in the summer months to 15,000 people. Atlantic Beach Rescue is a first response agency with 38 volunteer rescuers. Its technical water team trains year-round.

OSCAR is a set of rugged vinyl bladders that when filled with fresh or seawater, realistically mimic the size, weight and jointed handling characteristics of a 6′, 180 lb. adult. Fitted with a PFD or immersion suit, it imitates a lifeless MOB victim in every way. After use, it is drained and weighs a mere 35 lbs. It can even be disassembled for easy transport. A video is at bit.ly/2h3AVEY.

Emerald Marine Products’ OSCAR Water Rescue Training Dummy comes with a one-year warranty on parts and labor, and costs $699.