Each year, approximately 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 YMCA. 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 only direct references to the individual organization) and providing a few important teaching points for you to share with your staff.
Early this year the following news article appeared in a major mid-western newspaper:
“Thursday, January 3, 2002”
“A 12-year-old [town] girl who was pulled from the YMCA swimming pool Monday night remained in critical condition Wednesday at a [nearby city] hospital.
[Victim], of 820 Ella St., was taken to [first] Medical Center and transferred to [second] Medical Center in [city].
At 9:02 p.m. Monday, [town] police responded to a call of a juvenile drowning victim at the YMCA at [address].
A lifeguard told police she pulled the girl from the pool and began performing CPR. [Victim] was playing a game with other children to see who could hold their breath under water the longest.
Authorities said [victim] suffered lung damage when she breathed in water.”
A follow-up news article said the following:
“A [town] YMCA official said the organization is not considering any immediate policy changes following the near-drowning of a 12-year-old girl on New Year's Eve.
”[YMCA spokesman], executive director for the YMCA, said the lifeguard and staff acted quickly after [victim], 820 Ella St., went under water during a children's game but failed to come up for air.
“'I feel the staff and the lifeguard responded immediately to the incident. By that time, the ambulance was there to take over,' [YMCA spokesman} said. 'Our thoughts and our prayers are with her and her family.'
”[Victim] was one of 11 children taking part in a New Year's stay-over event at the YMCA.
“At 9:02 p.m., emergency medical staff responded to a call about a near drowning.
"According to police reports, [victim] was playing a game with other children to see who could hold their breath under water the longest.
"The lifeguard told police that when the girl failed to come up for air, she pulled her from the pool.
"Paramedics took [victim] to [first] Medical Center. She was transferred to [second] Medical Center in [a neighboring city].
”[Victim], who inhaled water into her lungs, remained in critical condition Thursday.“
Fact: A child needed CPR and has inhaled water in her lungs.
Fact: A new group had entered the organization’s pool due to a New Year’s Eve program.
Fact: The near drowning occurred when the children decided to play a “hold your breath” game.
Fact: The organization’s comment to the media expressed good concern for the victim and family.
Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.