Guiding and the Unexpected Emergency

By Bob Wilson - August 1, 2014
What happens when an unexpected accident or medical emergency occurs on your boat or to one of your clients, or for that matter yourself? You are on the water and miles from any type of boat ramp. Before we get into any scenarios, let me give you some tips I use on every guide trip I take out.

We have all seen this before at any given time at any boat ramp. A large group of friends or maybe a large family arrive at a boat ramp and it never fails, you have eight people, all standing around, and only one person can back the vehicle up, put the boat in the water, park the trailer, and drive the boat.

That scenario I just stated is just what we do as guides on every trip, we put the boat in the water and if the clients are at the ramp, they would lend a helping hand with the boat, so this is what we do this over and over on every trip we go on. So the story is would you want to count on that, or any one person to help you or for that fact anyone in your boat on a guide trip, or at home, or work, to help you in any type of emergency situation, and heaven forbid its not your child.

After I launch my boat and have my clients in the boat, I go over a number of safety tips I do on every guide trip I go on.

I start with the life perservrer, where to locate them, and how to put them on,and you would be surprised at how many people do not know how to use or put a life perservrer on.

Next is the throw-away cushion. Mine is bright yellow that has three words in big black letters "I Need Help." Other boaters may see the cushion and be able to help or come to our aid.

Now, I move on to the fire extinguisher. At this time, I point out where the battery cases are, and if we need to, for anyone in the boat or in an emergency, any one can get to the fire extinguisher. If a fire happens at a battery compartment or if the the gas tank has been comprised, the guide or the clients can respond as needed.

If I have a medical emergency out on the lake, the clients should know how to start the boat and get us back to land or as close to shore as possible, a boat ramp would be good.

Last, I point out to my clients where my first aid kit is and what I have in it as well. I will touch on what I have in my first aid kit a little later.

This whole procedure takes about ten minutes at the boat ramp.

So, we are now out on the lake having fun and fishing. Everything is going good, and everyone is having fun and catching fish then, all of a sudden, we will stop here. Let's say you have a hypothetical medical emergency with one of your clients. In that moment, time stops and panic sets in. You stop what you are doing and think, "What should I do?" I do not know what to do; I was never trained in CPR or first aid. I do not even know how to do CPR, and I do not have a first aid kit. What do I do?

That scenario that I just played out for you can happen to any inland guide or charter boat captain, or for that fact to anyone at any given time of day, at home, or on the water or in your car, and that is when a medical emergency can happen.

As for all charter boat captains, they have to go to school to get their licenses before they can even be out on the water as guides. He or she must have to take a CPR and or a First aid course. They should get the course under their belt before they are able to guide.

We as inland guides do not need a CPR or first aid course to get our license, so I have to ask, "Is a charter boat captain's clients more important than the clients I or you may take out or may go in my boat as friends or family?" All guide trips should be treated as friends or as family.

A little history on myself, I was certified as a paramedic in 1976, and the fact is some of you guides fishing the lakes now were not even born when I started guiding. As a career Firefighter/ Paramedic, I had the best of both worlds: worked 92 days a year and guiding Castle Rock & Petenwell Lakes the rest of the time.

As I stated earlier, in my first aid kit is what I need, you may need something different. What you are now looking at is just a basic Johnson-Johnson kit. I have removed items that I do not need and added items I do need. Now, on two the inside pockets, I have just the basic articles: band-aids, cleaning wipes, burn jel, the pictures give you the information you need. Now, I open the main pocket and you see what is the heart of my kit: an ice pack, a mouth barrier used in CPR, three Epipens, some after bite and some odds and ends I just add.

My kit is for me, so you may not need what I have in my kit. You may get a kit to fit your needs and fishing style.

In all my years of fishing and/or guiding, I, as most, have had my little things happen in the boat: hook in finger, too much sun, cut myself, I think you get what I mean.

For example, this spring, late March, it was cold outside, and I was out with two guys in the river south of Petenwell dam when a medical emergency occurred. I am not sure what happened, but the client had some kind of reaction to something. I gave him one of the Epipens and showed him how to use. Then, I called 911 and went to the ramp as fast as 40hp can go. All in all, it turned out very well. By the way, I got two more trips from the two gentlemen.

The point of this article is to show how any of this could happen to any guide on the water or off the water. This upcoming year, the schools in the state of Wisconsin are going to train the school kids in CPR and first aid. As guides, let's not have our kids know more about safety than we do. Any fire department has CPR class from time to time, and some have first aid class as well. Just call your local fire department for any information or questions you may have. Be safe on the water, and most of all, have fun.

Author Bob Wilson
Bob Wilson
I have been fishing from a very early age and I have been fortunate enough to have a father, two grandfathers, and uncles, that where some of the best teachers a young man can ask for in the outdoors. I now have been now fishing and guiding Castle Rock and Petenwell lakes for over 35 years. My guide service has been featured in Mid West outdoors magazine a number of times over the years, I also have been invited to many sport shows to do seminars. Back in 1990 I created a fishing derby Kids fishing for Kids to raise money for handicapped fishing piers in my home town. I have volunteered to work with Fishing has no Boundaries as a Medical boat for over 4 years. I have been involved with the local bass club in stocking and habitat programs with cribs on our local lakes. I also have done a local radio show for a number years. Today my guide service focus on educating and teaching all ages young and old, my motto is to take a kid fishing. For more information on my guide service visit Gone Fishing Again Guide Service or email me at bobgonefishingagain@yahoo.com.