Local Lifeguards Trained In Dangerous Techniques - CBS11 last night
Local Lifeguards Trained In Dangerous Techniques Reporting
Bennett Cunningham DALLAS (CBS 11 / TXA 21)
It has been described as reckless, negligent, unethical and useless. CBS
11 News has learned that some local lifeguards may be trained to use the
Heimlich Maneuver before using CPR on an unconscious drowning victim.
The result could be fatal, and has the local medical community very
Cities like Rowlett and Dallas hired a Houston-based company called
NASCO (National Aquatic Safety Company), which instructs lifeguards to
use the maneuver as a first-response to a drowning victim. NASCO runs
one of the country's largest water safety certification programs.
Dr. Paul Pepe is the Director of Medical Emergency Services for the City
of Dallas, and a highly respected national expert on emergency medicine.
Pepe helped write "The Handbook on Drowning." His conclusion, there is
"no need to perform the so-called Heimlich Maneuver" - CPR is the first
aid you render. "When it's a general rescue, when they're unconscious,
when they're basically needing immediate resuscitation, we don't waste a
lot of time doing that. We get right to the resuscitation techniques,
The American Heart Association states, "After thorough review, the AHA
believes the most important thing is give two rescue breaths and then
CPR." The American Red Cross teaches CPR all over the country and states
using the Heimlich - or, as it is sometimes called, abdominal thrusts --
wastes precious moments.
The fear among medical professionals is real. In 1987, the Journal of
the American Medical Association documented the case of a 10-year-old
boy found at the bottom of a swimming pool. He was given the Heimlich
Maneuver, causing him to breathe in his own vomit. He ended up in a
vegetative state for seven years until he died.
Dr. John Hunsucker runs NASCO. Hunsucker is a university Assistant
Professor of Industrial Engineering, and is not a medical doctor.
Hunsucker claims using the Heimlich Maneuver on a drowning victim saves
lives, and he teaches the technique all over the world.
When CBS 11 News asked Hunsucker for scientific evidence to support his
position, he sent us a three-page paper stating the maneuver "does not
delay CPR " and that "..medical professionals are hesitant to do
mouth-to-mouth resuscitation." In one news report, Hunsucker was quoted
as saying CPR puts the rescuer at risk of AIDS, hepatitis and
tuberculosis. Click here to read Hunsucker's thoughts on "CPR Issues For
The American Red Cross says it has scientific proof that CPR works. "We
spend countless hours verifying that what we are teaching someone to do
- that it is proven to be effective," said local American Red Cross
spokesperson Anita Foster.
Despite backlash in the medical community, a spokesperson with the City
of Rowlett told CBS 11 News, "We've read and researched. We feel
comfortable with our lifeguards being trained under NASCO protocols."
The City of Dallas uses the NASCO protocols in its training, but told
CBS 11 News its lifeguards are instructed not to use the Heimlich
Maneuver as the first response on an unconscious drowning victim.
City-operated pools may not be the only ones at risk. CBS 11 News
obtained a 2008 NASCO client list and found the Hawaiian Falls
waterparks in Garland & The Colony were listed as clients. When CBS 11
News contacted Hawaiian Falls to find out if it still uses NASCO
protocols and trains lifeguards to use the Heimlich Maneuver as a first
response - the company's public relations firm sent an e-mail stating:
"Our client does not care to participate in this story."
The Texas Municipal League, which represents cities across the state has
a contract with NASCO, says the training it provides locally does not
include the Heimlich Maneuver.
The City of Rowlett sent us this statement:
"After conducting extensive research, staff recommends that lifeguards
at the Wet Zone continue to use the NASCO protocol as described below.
Abdominal thrusts are to only be used, if necessary, as a lifesaving
tool on a victim who is found unconscious in the water while
transporting them to the side of the pool for extraction. From the point
of extraction from the water, abdominal thrusts are not to be used.
These guidelines are in line with the NASCO guidelines and those set
forth by the American Heart Association. The Wet Zone lifeguards will
review and practice this training in the weekly in-service conducted
this week. Our number one concern and goal is for our lifeguards to
continue to provide the best, safest and most effective procedures for
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