A man overboard (MOB) situation occurs when a person unintentionally enters the water from a boat. MOB’s can be divided into two categories. Those who are active and are capable of physically assisting in their own rescue, and those who have been incapacitated and are unable to assist in their own rescue.
A person who ends up in the water can become incapacitated for any number of reasons. An injury caused by an object on the boat or a medical condition such a heart attack can put a person into the water in an incapacitated state. An injury incurred during a fall overboard can also incapacitate a person. In some cases, the shock of entering cold water can incapacitate a person instantly or in a very short amount of time. Cold water incapacitation can result in immediate cardiac arrest a lack of physical coordination in a matter of minutes. The lack of coordination can make it impossible for the victim to climb a ladder or to don a rescue device. Additionally, if the rescue vessel has relatively high sides it may be impossible to physically grab and lift the victim out of the water and onto the boat. In these cases, the existing life saving equipment may not be sufficient.
A NOAA engineer at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center has developed a new sling that allows a single rescuer to attach a lifting harness to an unresponsive victim who is unable to assist in their own rescue. As a result, the NOAA device does not require the rescuer to enter the water to assist the victim. This is ideal for rescue situations where there are limited crew, the craft is in high seas, or where the water is exceptionally cold.
The first prototype of the NOAA device was fabricated from a fiberglass pole and used stainless tubing for the ‘Y’. The device works well and has demonstrated the effectiveness of the design. However, the current design is heavy and not conducive to easy storage. NOAA is seeking a manufacturer to create a commercial version of the NOAA rescue device and sell the device under license.
Interested manufacturers should contact the Technology Partnerships Office for more information on obtaining a license.