Drowning - Treatment

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If you know someone who drowned or nearly drowned, what type of emergency treatment was used?

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How is drowning treated?

Treatment begins at the water's edge. The American Heart Association recommends that if possible, one person is sent to activate Emergency Medical Services and call 911. Another is sent to bring an automatic external defibrillator (AED) to the victim's side.

If no pulse can be identified and the patient is not breathing, CPR should be started. Drowning is one of the special situations where hands-only CPR is NOT indicated. If there is a potential for a neck injury, special care needs to be taken to prevent further injury to the victim by keeping the neck and body in alignment.

If the patient is breathing but not awake, they should be placed on their side in the rescue position to prevent aspiration if vomiting should occur.

  • Further treatment by EMTs, paramedics, and staff at the hospital will depend upon the severity of the symptoms. Those patients who have no symptoms may require nothing more than observation.
  • Those who are in cardiopulmonary arrest will likely undergo CPR with attempts to restore a regular heart rhythm and heart-beat.
  • Those patients who have symptoms related to the function of their heart, lung, or brain will need further evaluation and treatment tailored to their specific circumstances and situation.
  • And unfortunately, for those who are found dead with no potential for resuscitation, further treatment or evaluation may not be indicated.
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Comment from: Denyse, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 25

I drowned in a swimming pool in 1977. The paramedics brought me back to life. I remember waking up with an oxygen mask over my face.

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