Monday, June 25, 2007

Swimming: Article on saving drowning victims

My friend from School of ICT, Kok Keng, is a speedos-wearing buffed and perpetually tanned man these days. The man's dating a bikini-touting swimmer now and has dropped his previous love for basketball to concentrate on splashing around in water instead.

A few weeks ago, the software engineer-cum-swimming-instructor sent me this email with information about life-saving, and told me to forward it to people I know.

I've edited and summarized some parts of his original email, 'coz his English is not that good (he knows that :P )

The purpose of this article is not to introduce you to the different rescue methods for drowning victims. You'll have to go through an intensive course to learn about that: something which Kok Keng will be able to do so soon.

This article, however, wishes to impart the following:

  1. Law liability of saving a life: How to cover your own ass while trying to save someone else's ass.

  2. An idiot proof rescue method

  3. The different types of drowning victims: How to recognize them?
There are many drowning cases in Singapore: swimming being one of the most common sports and recreations in our dear country. The sad part is, why do we have so many people drowning, even though our swimming pools are popularly filled.

There are two possible conclusions.

1. Singaporeans are scared that they are liable for law suit if the person he/she saved dies or suffer from any injury.

2.They do not know how to recognize drowning victims.
For example: A kid's splashing water at you, and your first thought would be 'Aiyah, he's just fooling around like everyone else lah' OR Cool, that guy can sure hold his breathe.. probably from NDU?'... and after awhile, we could possibly have a dead person by the time ambulance arrive.


Law liability of saving a life:
How to cover your own ass while trying to save someone else's ass.

If you had gone through a course, first aid or life saving course... And if you attempted to save a person with the protocols they taught you. As long as you followed the protocols correctly, you will not be liable for lawsuits in that rescue. However, you have to make sure that whatever you were taught, you apply them correctly and accordingly to your qualification.

For example, if you have learned how to apply CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) and had not learned how to jab someone with adrenaline to boost his heart function, but you did the latter because it seemed so easy and the matter implicates and the person dies... then you WILL be liable. So whatever you do, just follow closely what you were taught.

However, if you HAD NOT gone through a course, and attempt to save the casualty... (After considering some of the important factors which i will mention later)...You MAY be liable for lawsuits if matter implicates and you are actually just acting garang, for example, applying CPR steps despite not knowing how to.

Like that how? Don't save ah?

No lah!

Please don't walk away when you someone is in distress! Learn the upcoming idiot proof methods.

An idiot proof rescue method

First and foremost, please note that your very own safety is the MOST IMPORTANT THING that should go through your considerations before attempting a rescue.
CALL FOR HELP OR ASSISTANCE before you attempt ANY RESCUE, Asking a bystander for help will definitely heighten the chance of saving the life. Call 995 for ambulance if you feel the need to do so after assessing the situation (e.g. unconscious floating victim/ suspected spinal injury)

Usually children that fall into the water are rather near to the pool side. You can easily reach for the kid and do a Reach rescue! Get his or her attention by shouting, and attempt to reach the kids with a pole, a stick or your clothings, or even your limbs.

Again, First and foremost, think about your safety -> Have you called for help? Can you stand firm? Or should you lower your center of gravity or grab onto something before you reach for the victim with your aid or your limb as he will be using your aid or You as help to get out of water!

Once the child is out of water,you don't even need to apply any form of resuscitation since you rescued him or her whilst the child is still able to struggle. If he turns unconscious, you have already called for help so your job is done from here on and you will not be liable: you can say that you're not a trained personnel and you only found him struggling in the water and just attempting to help him out.

That reason will be able to safeguard you from a possible sue as you do not know what to do, you did not want to implicate matters: making it a valid reason.

If the casualty is 15 meters away:

'But i can swim VERY WELL!' you claim.

However, are you sure you can handle the victim when you reach him? This is when it's not about swimming laps. A struggling person will grab onto just almost anything & everything to keep himself alive. That's just survival instinct/human nature!

Entering the water to rescue a person is highly discouraged, unless you're trained to do so, and have fitness & technical & theoretical confidence in doing so.

Then how? Don't save liao lah? NO.

You can still help by calling for help! There are board rescues where you throw board to the victim but there is a technique to throw it so you won't hit the victim, which wouldn't be covered in this article. But seriously, it will be more than enough that you shout for help immediately once you recognize a person in distress!

Call for the lifeguard at pool if your are pool. Else, just shout for to attract bystander's attention to pool a way to help him. Either way is better than just standing there trying to siam matters ,thinking you may get into trouble by helping him. Dear Father up there definitely won't endorse that Siam method of doing things.

The different types of drowning victims: How to recognize them?

The 4 types of drowning victims categorized by Singapore Life Saving Society, mainly:
  • The Non-Swimmer
  • The Weak Swimmer
  • The Injured Swimmer
  • The Unconcious
  • Are usually splashing water vigorously using their hands
  • Have their heads facing towards the sky, whilst totally submerged in the water until the head. This is a sign of them gasping for air.
  • Wouldn't be shouting for help: They couldn't, as they have drank too much water when they are struggling to breathe, and they are choking
  • Have their bodies vertically positioned in water
  • Have disoriented sense of direction: they maybe not be facing the crowd or where people are, when they are struggling.
  • Have BIG EYES: those are panicky expressions!
  • May not be coorperative if you attempt to rescue them and may just grab onto you to get out of water to breathe - Dangerous to get into water to rescue. Try to reach for them if they're near. Else get help.

The Weak Swimmer
  • Have their heads bobbing up and down.
  • Splashes water into a forward 'crawling'/catching direction: they are attempting to reach for shore / pool side
  • Are facing towards the shore or where people are.
  • MAY or MAY NOT shout for help. Some of them are paiseh/embarrassed to shout for help - no offense but especially there are those super muscular ones with huge ego and don't wish to be seen as a weakling. But you must still save them lah.
  • Have varied panicky expressions.
  • Frequency of bobbing may decrease: the drowning person may be more constantly submerged as he or she gets tired/exhausted from the struggling: will starts showing signs of a weak swimmer.
  • Should be coorperative and easily rescued once a reach or aid is threw to them. Try not to enter the water unless you're very very skilled. However, rule of thumb is to swim with an aid such as a float or a coconut(improvised floating device) and stop when you're 2 arms length away and pass him the float to ask him to swim back whilst assuring him that he's fine.
The Injured Swimmer
  • Can be a non-swimmer or weak swimmer or even competent swimmer type.
  • Usually grabbing onto the injured part.
  • Have grimacing expressions - in pain.
  • If bobbing up and down, may or may not shout for help.
  • May scream or shout in pain.
  • May not be coorperative. - > In such cases, a non-trained person should call for help. If he/she is reachable, make sure you have something to hold on to firmly before you reach out for him or her.
The Unconscious
  • May be floating/half submerged or fully submerged in the water
  • If you see someone in the 'drown proofing' position or floating motionlessly on his back or on his chest(Especially). Take a good look if he stays in that position for longer than 'normal'. Use your own judgement: the person may be from some village which require him to dive into the deep sea to collect pearls without the use of oxygen tank, but that's hardly the case. There are hardly a handful of people in singapore who can hold their breathe for more than 2 to 3 minutes?
  • Call for help immediately in such cases.

A bloody long article, yes. Thanks to KK. If you have bothered to read through the whole thing, then you'll be reading this line. Congratulations. Now I've got to find a way to 'cut' the article in blogger: a little like LJ Cuts in Livejournal. There's a method available here.

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