Hydronalix sells EMILY's for US$3,500, which is less than half the average price of a gas-powered Jet Ski.

Designed and manufactured by Arizona-based Hydronalix, EMILY (Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard) can reportedly be deployed in 30 seconds, and at a top speed of 24 mph (39 kph) is able to reach a troubled swimmer much faster than a human would be able to. It’s propelled by a Jet Ski-style impeller, that sucks water in from the front and shoots it out the back, and is able to flip itself back over if capsized in rough surf.

Once it reaches the swimmer, EMILY's shore-based operator is able to communicate with them via an onboard camera and two-way radio system – on one version of the product, at least. From there, it can transport the swimmer back to shore under its own power or, if a rescue line was attached when it set out, it can be towed back using that line. Aside from getting to those in need faster, sending EMILY to the rescue means that no more people are put in danger – a common problem for rescuers dealing with panicking swimmers.

Via Popular Science (Complete EMILY Article)





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We can all learn from this and make changes and upgrades where we can. This new tool appears to be a reasonable alternative to a fiscally challenged profession. I look forward to learning more about this product and how it worked on real incidents. We will also learn more about this incident when it goes to court...

As far as thinking outside of a box and my not being there... You lost me on that one John. It's a given that no one was there but an engine company on the news that simply just drove by the incident. To openly discuss the incident, hopefully learning from it and coming up with a solution, such as the EMILY device is a good thing, right? Not condescending or argumentative, just working together to find a solution to a terrible situation.

Using fires where firefighters actually did something compared to doing nothing... This was not a situation where firefighters typically tread. To be ordered to do nothing?

Hence my passion to do something here on the FFN, problem solving and not simply saying oh well, you weren't there.
I don't have an issue with learning and looking for alternatives, I do have issues with the Monday morning QB that tends to come along with such discussions. I tried to nip much of that in the bud in the initial "pulled" post, especially in regards to the "policy be damned" comments.

As for the thinking outside the box and not being there, I was alluding to the suggestions made like using the surfboard, don wetsuits and go, etc. What I mean is that it is fine to bring such things up afterwards, but when questioning as to why the crews didn't do such tactics, seems to focus blame moreso than the circumstances faced. Where you worked things may have been different and there were alternatives made, but the same can't be said everywhere. That was my point, that without being there, one really doesn't know the circumstances involved.

On a side note and no expert by any means, I lived in San Francisco for a few months for my "A" school in the Navy. I was stationed on Treasure Island and surrounded by the bay with Alemeda to the southeast of us. Just from my experiences there and being there from summer through fall, to winter, you really didn't see many surfers in the bay and the climate in summer is a bit different than SoCal. Just possible that many of the ideas and options may not exist in the bay area vs SoCal.

an engine company on the news that simply just drove by the incident

As to what degree? Do we know what they were doing? Were they dispatched on another call? Were they moving up to cover a district?

To me that is the stuff that does irk me, because there is and should be some benefit of doubt, vs jumping to conclusions. Saying an engine company just drove by also doesn't account for any other number of possibilities and not every call justifies a lights and siren response.

Sure it may have been on the news, but it doesn't account for everything. In a way it isn't much different than the "investigative news" story that Ron Ayotte posted about Boston FD and the rig going shopping just outside the city. Showing the picture doesn't account for all the circumstances involved and in that story the reporter really looked like a heal for jumping to conclusions. If they bothered to ask the company they would find this was the closest store in the area while still being able to respond quickly on runs. It goes towards benefit of doubt.

Using fires where firefighters actually did something compared to doing nothing... This was not a situation where firefighters typically tread. To be ordered to do nothing?

Yes, the FF's did do something, but the events leading up to those events were already foregone and thus fate sealing for the victims. The point about those fires was that lessons were learned from the outcome....such as how cutting water rescue and depending on outside resources may not be the best option.

Now, yes in those cases the FF's did do something, but we can also look at Worcester Cold Storage where the Batt Chief stood on the stairway being a physical barrier to crews who still wanted to go in after the guys down. They were also ordered to do nothing in a way. So how is the concern about welfare, safety, and lives of the rest of the Batt Chief's guys in that call any different than the chief's guys here?

Can we say for certain guys didn't want to do more? Was the risk really worth the benefit with circumstances considered? Was communication truly effective to know if the CG was coming, and so forth? Do you see where I'm going? We don't really know everything and there was enough risk at stake for the decision to be made to garner the response made.

Hence my passion to do something here on the FFN, problem solving and not simply saying oh well, you weren't there

I understand that, which is why you came out with this thread. However, problem solving in hindsight does not take into account circumstances faced by responders. I agree that a "you weren't there" approach doesn't constitute problem solving, but neither does rehashing the incident and what can be construed as finger pointing. The past is the past and the best way to move forward is take the knowns and look to prevent, but also use the incidents as a way to problem solve for potential future incidents.
It would be interesting to read about real life uses of EMILY if it has been used in a real rescue yet. What about distance and navigating the unit in to a victim, I wonder if it is hard to get it in close without knocing the victim unconcious by hitting them in the head.
The two way radio is the best part, like FETC said, if you have a depressed individual trying to drown themself, hearing their mothers pleas for them to stop might do the trick and make them change their minds. Especially if it has the video feed and they see their mother or wife/husband visibly upset.
I live in the mountains now but come from Long Island NY originaly and was surrounded by water growing up. My first department had a dive rescue team with a rescue/firefighting boat and this by far is the better solution instead of buying the gear and training the people than put them in harms way. Instead you have training for a handfull of people on how to pilot the EMILY and you are done. Great concept and I am interested in hearing more as you find it CBz.

Hope everyone had a great fathers day.
EMILY would probably be a great addition to our rescue tools. In saying that, however, if the victim is intent on committing suicide, they may not grab on and all our efforts would be in vain anyways. A victim trying to survive would probably grab on as soon as they could. It's too bad the people who hold the purse strings to fund training and equipment for the Fire Dept in Alameda didn't think about the repurcussions of cutting the budget before this suicide occurred.
I'm sure you have heard of MBO, or Management by Objective for running a fire department. In this situation, it appears that they are following the MBP concept, or Management by Perspective. It's all in how you see it I suppose...

The past is the past and the best way to move forward is take the knowns and look to prevent, but also use the incidents as a way to problem solve for potential future incidents.

So... how about this EDITH rescue tool? I agree with what you said and look forward to seeing things like EDITH used in real life incidents. Doing more with less is something we all unfortunately have to get used to.

Finally, I love your examples and writing prose. I may have pushed a few buttons but the outcome from you and others have been exemplary and a learning experience for those who vicariously, and often times silently, read these posts and absorb every word.

Folks like you John are the reason why the fire service maintains integrity and professionalism. You set the bar for others actively involved in this awesome job. Don't stop.

I'm feeling the love again.
With a shoutout to KGoD
Feelin it too Jack, I'm getting all misty here.
Part of the problem here isn't management, it's leadership.

"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't manage him to drink." (Unknown author)

There were plenty of leadership failures here, at a variety of levels.

This entire case shows how complex things are, and how much more complex they're likely to get.

Fire departments that have bodies of water need to understand that there is an expectation that we're going to be able to save everyone, no matter how unrealistic that expecation might be.

It helps if there is a Master Plan that includes the following:

Risk/Hazard Assessment
Historical Data regarding incident type and location
An assessment of department training, equipment, manpower requirements, and operating procedures for the specific hazard under consideration.
Identify industry best practices
Identify the gap between current capabilities and best practices
Lay out a plan to close the gap
A Risk/Benefit matrix for firefighter safety once the new program is implemented.
Go/No Go/Safety rules.

If you do all of these, it won't make your people instant experts, but it will provide a manageable, standardized preparedness method for a specific hazard type.

This also demonstrates the gambling that goes on when public safety budgets are cut. When the budget is cut and services are reduced, it's pretty obvious that public safety is reduced. That't not the time to gamble with people's lives - it's time for the public safety agencies to lay their cards on the table and point out exactly what service won't be provided when the money to fund it goes away.

It's easy to tell other people that they have to volunteer to undertake additional risk. It's no practical to force them to do so.

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