Emergency Oxygen Use by Lifeguards: Making a Case

TitleEmergency Oxygen Use by Lifeguards: Making a Case
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsHorewitz, G
Conference NameInternational Medical-Rescue Conference
Date Published09/1997
PublisherInternational Life Saving Federation
Conference LocationSan Diego, California, USA
Call Number18
Other Numbers131

In 1995, there were an estimated four thousand five-hundred (4500) drowning deaths in the United States. Of these, one thousand seven-hundred (1700) are estimated to have occurred during swimming activities. The pediatric population represented the greatest number of drowning victims per 100,000 people.i Estimates of near-drowning, defined as a submersion incident with a survival period of greater than twenty-four hours, are extrapolated from drowning statistics, since many near-drowning events go unreported. The incidence of near-drowning is estimated to be two to twenty-fold greater than drowning incidences, meaning that near-drowning involving swimming is estimated between three thousand four-hundred (3400) to thirty-four thousand (34,000) incidents in the representative year.

Since 1914, the American Red Cross has been a part of the effort to address this serious problem. Largely due to the early ground-breaking work of Commodore Wilbert E. Longfellow, The American Red Cross is one of the leading training organization for lifeguard instruction in the United States, in 1996 training over one hundred eighty thousand lifeguard rescuers in lifeguarding skills, First aid and CPR. In addition, The American Red Cross also trains the public in water safety issues.

One of the courses offered by the American Red Cross catalogue is Oxygen Administration. When a lifeguard is certified in Oxygen Administration it stands as a sign of the growing professional capabilities of today's lifeguard. Yet, at this time, not all lifeguards are being trained in the use of oxygen most facilities do not have oxygen as part of their medical equipment.

This presents several questions.

  • Why is oxygen important in the early care for submersion victims?
  • Should more lifeguards be trained in the use of supplemental emergency oxygen?
  • What are the barriers to training more lifeguards in oxygen administration?
  • What are the barriers to oxygen delivery capabili¬≠ties at aquatic facilities?
  • What steps are being taken and can be taken to address these issues?