Helping a paddler in distress is top priority, not only good etiquette.
Assisting someone should be less traumatic than affecting a self-rescue. You might help a paddler one day and another day be grateful for some assistance.
All paddlers, even in a group, should have the ability for self-rescue. They should be similarly equipped with safety gear, the same as you; otherwise they immediately transfer that reliance onto you.
Be wary of someone joining your group that you perceive might not cope with the intended activity. Unless you make special arrangements, some kind of assistance will be inevitable sooner or later, with you being obliged to provide it.
#1 Reading the situation
When assisting a paddler in distress, read the situation as quickly and best you can. If not acquainted with the procedures, having someone alongside in the water, or on the back of your craft and getting him or her out of a danger area can become an enormous undertaking.
If you consider the situation to be critical, use your discretion to initiate a distress communication immediately and only then proceed with the rescue. The sooner you make the call, the more you can focus on the situation….
READ MORE from page 46 in Issue 3 of 2018: https://issuu.com/thepaddlemag/docs/tpm_3_2018