EMS offers pool tips to stop drowning trend



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Posted on June 11, 2013 at 6:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 11 at 6:01 PM

AUSTIN -- The young girl who drowned in a North Austin swimming pool June 10 was visiting from Houston. Six-year-old Aatyana Jenae Nash died Monday afternoon. Despite several people being in the pool area, EMS says she stayed under five or six minutes.

Austin-Travis County EMS say they also responded to four other near-drowning incidents the same day.

As protocol, the City of Austin Health and Human Services inspected the pool Tuesday where the six-year-old died. The Red Roof Inn pool passed, though some recommendations were made.

Austin-Travis County EMS Commander Michael Broadwater says drowning can happen in as little as 20 seconds. "So it's really important to take time and pay attention to the kids," he said.

When pools are crowded on a hot summer day, EMS says parents should not think all the extra eyes are a safety net. They say parents shouldn't take their eyes off kids in the pool, not even to read a book or use your cell phone.

"If you are having a backyard party or at a neighborhood pool that we always have somebody designated as our water watcher," said Jodi Jay, the aquatics division program manager for City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department.

Jay says even at a place with lifeguards, remain within reach of those who aren't strong swimmers.

Here are more tips from EMS:

Remember, drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing and yelling that movies and television prepares us to look for is rarely seen in real life. The Instinctive Drowning Response is what people do to avoid suffocation in the water. Know what to watch for:

1.    Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled before speech occurs.
2.    Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help.
3.    Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface.
4.    Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help.
5.    From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued, drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.
6.    Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they’re drowning. They may just look like they are treading water. One way to be sure? Ask them, “Are you all right?” If they can answer at all—they probably are. If they return a blank stare, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them.

And parents—children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.