Jumpers perform all the duties of water starters with the extra task of jumping from a moving chase boat to assist a skier that has fallen. They are the first persons to get to a fallen skier and should be trained in emergency water safety techniques. Although injuries are very rare, skiers that have just fallen may be frightened or disoriented, and it is suggested that Jumpers have lifeguard or AWSA Water Safety Director certification. As with the Water Starter, Jumpers must wear an USCG approved PFD.
Listen to the skier profile as it is relayed from the towboat. Remember, you are there for the skier’s safety and you are also the instructor. Begin your assessment of the student as s/he gets into the water and continue the assessment until the skier is finished with his/her ride.
Discuss with the towboat personnel and your chaseboat driver the strategy for approaching the skier after a fall. Can the skier be left in the water unassisted or is there an urgency for an immediate response? It is important to establish a plan of action for this particular skier before the need to respond arises. Remember, more times than not your job is that of a water starter rather than a rescue person! Reserve quick response actions for individuals that really need it.
In the event of a quick response, wait for your driver to approach the skier and reduce speed. Jump feet first into the water about five feet (two or three swimming strokes) from your skier without losing sight of him/her. It is important not to land too close to your student causing unnecessary splashing. You will be a danger to the skier and yourself if you jump too close (especially if you land on them!). While swimming toward the skier, establish communication using his/her first name and assuring that all is OK. Proceed with water starting duties and signal your chase boat driver when you are ready to be picked up.
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