Just my 0.02p worth. When I did my RYA safety boat cert we spent most of a weekend pulling people out the water, as well as the various bits of kit that they were carrying. Very worth while too.
One point that really struck home was that if the MOB is unable to use their legs (and thus can't help you) it is much easier to get them out of the water back to the boat than if they're facing forwards. However watch their back as you pull them over. On the point of spinal injuries I also learned a really good point. You can alway deflate some of the air from one chamber of the rib to get someone with a suspected spinal injury in MUCH easier - flat in across the water rather than up and over the toob.
I've only had to do a water recovery once for real. Two kids in black inflatable rings
, managed to get themselves caught in a rip tide and were being sucked towards the main shipping channel approach to Poole harbour as one of the Condor's was coming in. Their father (stood on the beach) was oblivious to the danger, and it took me to point it out to him. Even then he suggested that the boys could swim back in - fat lot of good that was doing them! My wife and I stowed anchor, launched and pulled them out of the water - just in in time to as Condor was only about 300 yds from us by the time we got the second lad on board.
Fortunately all the safety boat training kicked in and the recovery was simple and uneventful, but why to people insist on letting their kids use those "accident waiting to happen" inflatables. It doesn't seem to matter how many kids get into difficulty, some parents just won't learn
. I can assure you that I had a few choice words for the (very grateful) boys father once we'd got them safely back to shore.