looking for input on pfd for swift water use, we are currently updating our current gear and we need new pfds, it has become a hot topic because our department has a handful (3) with swift water training so most of our rescues are going to be shore based. The question is, are the inflatable types worth the money because they are compact or should we go with type v or a mix of type V type III ? my opinion is a mix of each since the few who are trained would be utilized by the local team and would need our own gear and this would save us money on the purchase, most everyone else wants to go balls to the wall and type V for everyone with all the bells and whistle's,but i think this would just get someone hurt
First, remember that there are several different Type V PFDs, and not all of them are designed for swiftwater rescue. Second, some Type V's are designed for raft customers that get thrown overboard, and those are not the best for rescue swimming in moving water. Third, there are swiftwater rescue PFDs that do not have a Coast Guard rating.
Coast Guard ratings are primarily for victim PFDs, not rescuer PFDs.
My personal favorite SWR PFD is the Force 6 Rescuer. It does not have a Coast Guard rating, but it has more floatation than all but one of their primary competitors. It has more adjustments than any other I've seen, it has leg straps to keep the PFD in place when swimming big water, it has big pockets for gear, great mounts for knives and carabiners, and two quick-releast gear belts in addition to the rescue tether quick release belt.
If you get SWR PFDs with quick-release rescue swimmer belts, restrict their use to people who are trained and experienced in their use. Swiftwater Type IIIs are adequate for shore support, boat crews members other than rescue swimmers, and EMS personnel who don't enter the water.
It's better to issue each SWR team member their own PFD, just as you would turnout gear or other PPE.
Avoid the use of the "universal" type rescue PFDs. They are well-known for looking great out of the water, and for all of the adjustment straps loosening when in the water. That results in a poor PFD fit at best and the PFD coming off the rescuer in the water at worst.
We have three different styles of PFDs on our Dept. We have the STEARNS, VR Versatile Rescue Vest on our Boat and Rescue Squad and on each Engine and on our Truck we have one of the the Extrasport Universal Rescuer vest and then have 2 or 3 of the NRS, Rapid Rescuer P.F.D for the shore based guys The first two have the quick release blet for attaching a line to and the third one doesn't have that featurre, which is why it's for shore based personnel.
I agree with Ben. The Force 6 is a great rescuer jacket. It is a bit more costly, but well worth it. The size to fit is they key. the last thing you want coming loose is your PFD in the middle of a rescue or even training! For Shore crews Mustang has a new near shore jacket that we use. I would stay away from inflatables for shore crews. Whe it comes to cost they would top your list. They are good for boat crews who are on the water for periods of time and that would be the extent.