The Catalyst

MUSC crews participate in drowning resuscitation training at Splash Island

By Ashley Barker
Public Relations

Crews from the MUSC Pediatric Emergency Department, Charleston County Emergency Medical Service and MUSC Health’s Meducare Medical Transport Service met with Charleston County Parks and Recreation lifeguards Aug. 7 at Splash Island in Mount Pleasant.

A Charleston County EMS paramedic and a Splash Island lifeguard practice moving a training mannequin from the pool area to an ambulance as MUSC Health Meducare crew members watch.
A Charleston County EMS paramedic and a Splash Island lifeguard practice moving a training mannequin from the pool area to an ambulance as MUSC Health Meducare crew members watch.

They spent the morning discussing resuscitation techniques when dealing with a drowning patient or water-related emergency.

There are about 8,000 drowning accidents in the United States each year, according to Keith Borg, M.D., Ph.D., who is the division chief of Pediatric Emergency Medicine.

“We certainly see them almost every week in our Emergency Department in the summer,” Borg said. “Being around the water, we see more than our share in the Lowcountry.”

Borg – along with Todd McGeorge, assistant chief of the Charleston County EMS – spoke about the importance of lifeguards knowing and practicing the transition of care from the water park or pool to the EMS crew and on to the hospital.

“We need a rapid, organized transport of care,” McGeorge said. “We need help to position the ambulance unit as close as possible to the scene, and a lifeguard should lead the paramedic to the patient. When talking to dispatch, be able to tell them the patient’s level of consciousness, is he breathing, and the heart rate. Also give them an overview of what happened – did the child slip and fall in the water, was he swimming and just went under, how long was he under and is he blue or coughing?”

The medical professionals also encouraged the lifeguards to practice crowd control in the event of an emergency and to assign a bystander to console and keep any family members calm.

“Ask the parents or people around if the child is allergic to anything,” McGeorge said.
While waiting for the paramedics to arrive, the No. 1 goal for the lifeguard is to maintain proper CPR techniques if the patient isn’t breathing independently.

“Everybody thinks they can do CPR for five minutes. You can’t. You need to be rotating every two minutes,” McGeorge said. “Every compression needs to be effective so get someone fresh in there often.”

Charleston County Parks and Recreation lifeguards at Splash Island in Mount Pleasant practice moving swimmers out of the pool using a backboard.
Charleston County Parks and Recreation lifeguards at Splash Island in Mount Pleasant practice moving swimmers out of the pool using a backboard.

The goal is to maintain 100 compressions per minute and to not stop those compressions once the EMS arrives. After watching several practice sessions, McGeorge said he noticed one lifeguard was surprised that the paramedic expected her to keep doing compressions all the way into the ambulance.

“Don’t stop once the crew arrives. You can jump on the stretcher and maintain CPR with one arm. Don’t stop until someone looks at you and says to stop,” he said.

In addition to training the lifeguards, the emergency crews are making it their mission to help train citizens to handle accidents in the water.

“Relatively few drowning accidents happen at water parks. They’re actually very safe places, in part because the lifeguards are training and because they’re supervised settings,” Borg said. “Most drownings happen at home in unsupervised, dangerous areas. Prevention is all about learning and practicing safety, which is very important.”

Borg suggests signing up for a first aid class with the American Red Cross, which offers CPR training, and to never allow anyone to swim alone.

Water safety tips

The American Red Cross offers tips for water safety at http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/water-safety.

Charleston County Parks & Recreation

The county parks offer year round swimming lessons. The goal of Swim Safe Lowcountry is to ensure everyone has access to swimming lessons. Call 795-5756 or visit http://ccprc.com/.

August 27, 2013
 
 
 

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