It’s good to question why we do things the way we do. This holds true for all endeavors including water safety. At the recent AOAP conferences, several excellent presentations were provided that questioned our traditional water safety approaches. First, an ER doctor presented valuable data convincing the audience that getting air into the lungs and oxygen to the brain of a drowning victim was of the utmost importance and should be a priority. Although most if not all training agencies recommend two breaths, this very qualified ER doctor and lifeguard stated he believes a minimum of five breaths are needed immediately. The lecture was very informative and questioned “why just two breaths?” At least now there may be more discussion about more frequent ventilations rather than just routinely relying on two. Another presentation by the City of Phoenix, questioned the way they conducted their audits. After years of doing “active victim” lifeguard audits they suddenly switched to “dead man float” on the surface audits, without telling their guards. Although their lifeguards performed exemplary in the past with active victim audits, they performed poorly when faced with a face down “dead man float” on the surface. The face down “victims” in this case were taught to breathe through long fun straws that were difficult to detect by lifeguards. By asking themselves “Why do we audit our guards the way we audit them?” The City of Phoenix now believes their lifeguards are more competent and confident when it comes to in-water emergencies. Finally, many actual drowning videos caught by surveillance cameras were shown to attentive audiences. The real victims, all of whom drown with lifeguards on duty, displayed drowning scenarios that have not been explained in the lifeguarding texts. One victim sank directly to the bottom of the deep end with no surface struggle at all, another swung his arms alternately above the surface of the water, while another kept grabbing a tuck position with knees to the chest just below the surface of the water. These pictures were worth a thousand words and they might have been asking, “why do we teach what we do about drowning victims?” Questioning is a good thing. It should not be considered a bad thing or being disloyal. Asking questions only makes us better and our facilities safer. It was indeed rewarding to see so many people at the recent AOAP conference asking questions.

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