Who to Save First – Mum or Wife?

So your mum and your wife decided to fall into the sea at the same time. Who should you save first? This classic question never fails to come up at some point of your life. So, here is a comprehensive answer that you can provide that will in one way or another, make both your mum and wife speechless. Do note that my answer is provided from my point of view as a qualified lifesaver, and can be applied in an actual situation to increase the likelihood of preserving lives.

Think before you act!

After being alerted to the situation, you have to assess the situation first:

  • How far are the victims away from you?
  • Who is the weaker swimmer?
  • Are there any rescue aids available?
  • Are you fit enough to perform the rescue?

The rule of thumb is to save the person with the higher chance of survival first. Generally, this means that you should save the person nearest to you, the weaker swimmer or who is injured first. If one of them has already become unconscious (what were you doing??), you should save the one who is conscious first.

Another thing to take note of is whether there is anything near you that can aid you in your rescue. Anything that floats and can provide support can be used to perform the rescue. All you have to do is to throw the “float” to them. If there is only one of it, throw it to the nearer person since it is far easier than to throw it far. If there is a rope that is long enough, you may even use it to perform the rescue. This means that technically, you can don’t enter the water and still save both of them!

The smart aleck who asked you the question may follow up and say “What if they are equal distance away?”

Reply: “Have you ever heard of a ‘double chin tow’?”

Basically, a “chin tow” is a form of rescue that involves you towing a conscious casualty to safety. “Double chin tow” just means you tow 2 people at one go.

Smart aleck: “What if your wife is pregnant? That is 2 lives vs. 1 life”

This is where you cook up some excuse and stop entertaining this person, regardless of whether that is your mum or your wife.

Making an informed decision is not as easy as it seems. There are more considerations that you will learn by taking up lifesaving courses. Lifesaving tests include an “Initiative Test”, where you have to exercise your best judgement to decide who to save first. So, if you want to be fully-prepared to tackle this in real life, or just to answer this question, you may wish to take up lifesaving lessons. Alternatively, leave a comment with your question and we will do our best to answer you.