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Two Near Drownings with very different outcomes for lifeguards

Recent media articles have highlighted very different outcomes for Pool lifeguards involved in near drowning incidents in public pools.

In the Australian incident an 8 year old child was pulled from the water at Monash Aquatic Centre in Glen Waverley (Vic) and CPR was immediately commenced.

In this instance the child was hospitalised for a few days but has since been released.

Lifeguards and staff are all being congratulated on their efforts and the fantastic result.

In a similar incident in the USA, a 5 year old was pulled from the pool by lifeguards and CPR was immediately commenced. Again in this case the outcome was fantastic with the child surviving…..but the local Stamford Police Department don’t see it this way and have charged the lifeguard supervising the particular pool with “Endangerment”.

In the view of the police, the lifeguard should have noticed the child underwater sooner. Video surveillance evidence shows that the child was unobserved (underwater) for nearly four minutes.

So what can we learn from these incidents:

  • Lifeguarding is a very serious job with a lot of responsibility. A simple one or two seconds lack of attention can mean the difference between life and death.
  • It is impossible to view an entire pool from a single location on pool deck at all times. Regular movement (walking around the pool) is required to ensure that no-one has gone to the bottom of the pool.
  • It only takes a second or two for a non swimmer to let go of the side and go to the bottom. If the lifeguard does not see this and it takes them 4 to 5 minutes to move around the pool then it will be at least 5 minutes before the person is rescued and any CPR attempts commenced.
  • Lifeguard’s need to know how many people they are looking after (supervising). The difference between 29 and 30 people in the water could be 1 dead person.
  • Finally, whilst we encourage through rules and regulations, that parents / guardians supervise children under 10, ultimately the lifeguard is still responsible for supervising all people in their pool and ensuring parents / guardians are actively supervising their children


For further information on these incidents, refer to the links below for excerpts from local media:

Near Drowning At Monash Aquatic Centre Sept 2017

Near Drowning at Chelsea Piers in Stamford (US) Aug 2017