A few days ago, Evan Geiselman suffered a horrendous wipeout at Pipeline. After he pulled into a closeout, he was knocked unconscious and held down for three waves. Bodyboarder Andre Botha found him face down and not breathing, then saved his life.
It was extremely fortunate that Botha was there and rescued him. As a Junior Lifesaver, Botha had the presence of mind to perform rescue breathing in the water, which very likely may have saved Geiselman’s life.
When someone is drowning, the first thing to do is provide the victim with oxygen as soon as possible. The easiest way to do it when you don’t have lifesaving equipment on hand is with mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing.
A study showed that delaying resuscitation efforts was associated with a worse outcome for non-breathing drowning victims. In-water resuscitation was associated with improvement of the likelihood of survival.
Back in October, during the Drowning Resuscitation Workshop at the Surfing Medicine Conference 2015 organized by the European Association of Surfing Doctors, I had the chance to talk to Dr. David Szpilman, author of the study and medical director of SOBRASA in Brazil.
Here is our discussion about in-water ventilation. Remember not to put yourself in danger while trying rescue breathing. One of the first things someone learns when studying proper lifesaving techniques is to assess the situation. If rescue-breathing isn’t possible at the time, call for help, protect the victim, and bring him back to the safety of the beach to practice proper CPR.