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The Catalyst

Drowning leading cause of death for young

Training, awareness helps put dent in toll of drowning fatalities

by Dawn Brazell
Public Relations

Dr. Keith Borg (center in sunglasses) observes as Charleston County lifeguards run through a mock drowing simulation. Visit MUSC’s News Center to see the multimedia package at photos by Dawn Brazell, Public Relations

Keith Borg, M.D., Ph.D., took off running after Charleston County lifeguards at Isle of Palms beach, sand flying in his wake.

In this mock simulation, it’s not a real emergency for MUSC division chief with the Pediatric Emergency Division. Borg is just assisting with the training for the Charleston County EMS, lifeguards and MUSC Health’s MEDUCARE Medical Transport Service during two mock simulation events.

Beyond the benefits of improving the quality of care, Borg said the trainings offer a chance to remind the public of its role in ensuring water safety. His job in the emergency room keeps him aware of the importance of prevention, a message he likes to share in the summer months to keep fun in the sun safe.

Dr. Borg observes the interaction between lifeguards and MEDUCARE personnel in transitioning a mock drowning victim to be transported to the hospital.
Q & A with Dr. Borg
Why be a part of these kinds of trainings?
The key opportunity is to train with all the people involved in the care team from the lifeguards, pool or beachside, to teams like MEDUCARE or Charleston County EMS who continue resuscitation and transport to the emergency department. It’s everyone learning to work together. We all train in our niches but the chance to train together and work on improving the transitions in care is what makes this unique. Plus we just learn from each other.

How does drilling as a team improve the system?
It really allows you to know what to expect from the other system components.  There is also a different range of experience with different patients and environments that allow us all to share knowledge and learn from each other.

What are key messages you wish the public knew about drowning?
Prevention is the most important. Children are quick!  Monitored settings like pools and parks with lifeguards are safer because of the rules and close monitoring in those environments.  It’s important to sign up for a first aid class with the American Red Cross, which offers CPR training and never allow anyone to swim alone.

What is your advice to parents/community leaders about improving safety in the home setting?
Be prepared! Think and plan for an emergency in advance. Know how you would access emergency services, what supplies you have and how you can prevent and be prepared for emergencies. There are educational resources at websites like with good information on safety and how to best handle many home emergencies.
How big a problem is drowning?
It’s a bigger issue than most people realize. Just look at the statistics.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children ages 1 to 4, have the highest drowning rates. In 2009, among children 1 to 4 years old who died from an unintentional injury, more than 30 percent died from drowning. Among children ages 1 to 4, most drownings occur in home swimming pools. Drowning is responsible for more deaths among children than any other cause except congenital anomalies (birth defects). Among those ages 1 to 14, fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes. Every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger.






July 5, 2014



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