Netcare 911 responded to more than 320 call outs to drownings
and near drownings last year and to more than 80 during January and February
this year. During the most recent holiday period – from December 2012 to
January 2013 – Netcare 911 saw an increase of 11% in the number of call outs
compared to the previous year.
Keep an eye on
In response to this disconcerting trend, Netcare 911 chief
operating officer Craig Grindell called on parents and childminders to be
particularly vigilant over the Easter holidays.
“Make sure a close eye is kept on children at all times as
many drown while swimming unsupervised in rivers, dams and the sea each year.
Don’t assume that because children are of a particular age they can swim
without supervision. Netcare 911’s statistics show inland areas report more
call outs for children between the ages of two to eight years and coastal areas
for those in the 10 to 18 year age category,” he says.
are still more vulnerable to drowning as they have no idea about the dangers of
water and tend to be very inquisitive.
The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) fact sheet on
drowning indicates that children under five years of age have the highest
drowning mortality rates worldwide except in Canada and New Zealand, where the
rates for adult males are higher.
Further precautions that parents can take are to make sure
pools and ponds are covered with a pool safety net and surrounded by
child-proof fences. Such protection has been shown to significantly reduce the
number of drowning incidents.
childminders and others, such as teachers who are involved with children daily,
should complete a Basic Life Support course which offers cardio-pulmonary
resuscitation (CPR), with a reputable training provider, advises Netcare 911.
The recently launched Netcare Assist app for smartphones is also invaluable in
an emergency as it literally provides assistance with a single swipe of your
finger as well as a step-by-step guide on exactly what to do in case of a near
What to do in an emergency
Grindell recommends the following in the event of a near
- Ensure the safety of the rescuer
and remove the patient from the water.
- Lay the patient on a firm flat
surface and check for responsiveness and breathing.
- Call an emergency medical
services (EMS) provider, such as Netcare 911 (082 911), which will dispatch
qualified staff to assist you. Start emergency medical care immediately while
you are waiting for emergency medical staff to arrive. The call centre agent
can offer valuable telephonic guidance until the emergency medical team
- If the patient is not responding
and not breathing, start chest compressions (30 compressions), then open the
airway and give two breaths (breaths administered must result in chest rise for
air entry to be considered adequate).
- After five cycles of 30
compressions to two breaths, check for signs of life by the look, listen, feel
technique – look for movement, listen for air passing through mouth or nose and
feel for a pulse.
- If the patient has swallowed vast
amounts of water and vomits once revived, turn the victim on his or her side
- If the victim has a pulse but is
not breathing, continue rescue breaths. Give one breath every three seconds for
children between one and eight years of age and one breath every five seconds
to those over the age of eight. If both pulse and breathing have returned to
normal, turn the victim on to the side.
- Continue administering CPR until
an advanced life support paramedic or doctor can take over treatment.