Each year, nearly 1,500 children drown in the U.S. As we all know, a drowning can occur nearly anywhere. Yet, the natural inclination is to believe that one will not happen in our own community, especially at our own faciliy. Awareness of the threat's reality is critical. Reinforcing proven prevention strategies is an essential element in protecting the kids in our programs. Both are the goals for our “Aquatic Alert” program. Each is a brief treatment of the topic, focusing on a real, recent, public event– reprinting the published article in its entirety (omitting names and identifying references to the organization) and providing a few important teaching points for you to share with your staff. As always, if you need additional guidance on this topic, please call us at (800) 463 8546.
MAJOR SOUTHERN CITY: June 29, 2002 - An autopsy was scheduled for Saturday in the death of a 9-year-old boy who drowned during a summer school field trip at a local YMCA.
[Victim], who couldn't swim, drowned Friday morning while on an outing with about 45 classmates on the last day of a summer school program. Lifeguards found his body at the deep end of the pool after his teachers noticed he was missing.
“The classes were counted before returning to the school and that's when teachers realized one student was missing,” said [name], a spokesman for [local] Independent School District. “When they went back inside the YMCA, the lifeguards were already trying to revive the boy.”
YMCA officials said two lifeguards were on duty Friday at the pool, which reached 12 feet in depth. Officials could not say where the lifeguards were at the time of the drowning.
“The entire YMCA of [city] staff is shocked, grief-stricken and trying to come to terms with this tragedy,” [YMCA CEO] said.
Police said the child had no pulse and wasn't breathing when he was pulled from the pool, but that doctors at [area] Medical Center tried for up to an hour to revive him.
[Victim]'s mother, [mother’s name], said she was waiting for her son at school when she was told to go to the hospital, where she and family members waited until doctors told them “everything that could be done for [victim] had been done,” [victim’s mother] said.
“How can it happen? With the lifeguards and the teacher there? How can it be?” [victim’s mother] was quoted saying in Saturday's editions of [city newspaper].
[Victim] shared a bedroom with his 8-year-old sister and 4-year-old brother. The children were at a friend's house Friday night as their parents struggled to find a way to tell them about their brother.
[Victim’s mother] said [victim] was a shy boy who wanted to be a police officer when he grew up. He didn't know how to swim, but [victim’s mother] didn't think it would be a problem Friday morning.
“They said the children who couldn't swim, they would not let in the pool. Only in the small pool to wet their feet,” [victim’s mother] said.
Special groups always require special attention, including:
National organization standards require each lifeguard to be responsible for their specific assigned area– that means that they must be constantly aware of all activity in that area, scanning all of it every 10 seconds
If the above standard cannot be met because of increased bather load or any other factor, then it is the responsibility of the lifeguard(s) on duty to do one (or more) of the following immediately
Non-swimmers should always be within arm’s reach of an accompanying adult and/or in a life jacket, and should never be allowed into the deep water portion of the pool