Drowning occurs after experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid which causes a lack of oxygen for the casualty. Drowning is a common cause of accidental death.
The most important consideration the first aid provider can make is to ensure safety. Do not attempt a rescue beyond your capabilities.
Immediate resuscitation at the scene is essential for survival of the casualty after drowning. This requires immediate CPR and calling ‘000' for an ambulance.
Whenever possible, attempt to save the drowning casualty without entry into the water. If entry into the water is essential, take a buoyant rescue aid or flotation device.
Remove all drowning casualties from water by the fastest and safest means available and begin resuscitation as quickly as possible. Use a rescue aid, rope or buoyant aid if the casualty is close to dry land. Use a boat or other water vehicle if possible.
- pale, cool skin
- absent, rapid or laboured respirations
- decreased level of consciousness
- cyanosis (bluish colour)
- may have rapid, weak, slow or absent pulse
- call ‘000' for an ambulance
- check airway and breathing
- give rescue breaths if safe to do so
- commence immediate CPR if required
- place in recovery position once breathing is restored
- treat hypothermia if present
- suspect and treat spinal injuries
- DO NOT attempt a rescue beyond your capabilities
It should be remembered that drowning has a detrimental effect on the respiratory system and recovery, since the drowned casualty may experience a buildup of fluid in the lungs.
All casualty's that have had a drowning experience should seek immediate medical attention.
Untrained rescuers should not attempt to perform any form of resuscitation with a casualty in deep water.