A near drowning at a Beijing pool over the weekend has once again highlighted the need for safety awareness, and public CPR and first aid training.

Theresa Ahdieh, former brand manager for beijingkids, the Beijinger's sister publication, was visiting the public swimming pool at Qingnian Hu Park near Andingmen, with her husband, her son Ty, and other friends.

"The kids were not doing buddies that well, and there were so many people there," Ahdieh said, estimating a crowd of about 200 that day. She walked to the pool's edge to be able to see her son more easily. However, others in attendance told her not to worry, that it was safe and there were lifeguards on duty.

"Not five minutes after my friends told me to relax, the lifeguards are on duty, we see a girl on the side of the pool, lying on the deck, and an older woman pushing on her chest," Ahdieh said. As she approached the scene, she could see that the girl had an oxygen tube inserted in her nose, and that the woman attempting to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was doing so improperly, said Ahdieh, who received CPR and first aid training in the United States.

"Then the lifeguards picked [the girl] up from the knees and shook her upside down to get the water out," Ahdieh said. At this point she intervened, rolling the child, who like many near-drowning victims had begun to regurgitate, on her side. Ahdieh performed a finger sweep to clear mucus and other foreign matter out of the airway, and then called to the child in English. "Her eyes fluttered," she said, at which point some of the Chinese bystanders began calling to the child in Chinese. She then opened her eyes and appeared to breathe on her own. Lifeguards then placed the girl on a stretcher and took her out of the pool area, Ahdieh said. She did not know the ultimate outcome of the emergency, she said.

A moderator from the popular automotive website XCar was also at the pool Saturday, and posted photos of the incident on the forum.

The moderator stated that the water in the pool is 1.3 meters deep. He described the girl as being 1.5 meters tall, "no lifeguards were immediately found, several foreigners were assisting," he writes. The moderator also wrote that the girl opened her eyes and began breathing on her own.

Unintentional drowning among children remains a serious problem. Almost 4,000 people per year died between 2005-2009 in the United States from drowning and boating-related incidents, and one in five of those were 14 or younger.

Ahdieh recommends that parents follow her protocol for swimming in pools: wear bright-colored swim caps, not black or dark blue; swim with a buddy, and move with that buddy, in or out of the water; tell a parent or guardian if they are going into the water or moving to another area; and children should keep their parent or guardian in sight at all times. If the child can see the parent, the parent can see them too, she said.

Both beijingkids and Beijing United Family Hospital looked at summer safety in May 2013. A fact sheet from the US Centers for Disease Control on reducing drowning risk can be found here. A complete list of CPR and first aid training programs in Beijing was published in the 2013-2014 beijingkids Health Guide.

Photo: XCar

Disclosure: Steven Schwankert, the executive editor of the Beijinger and beijingkids parent company True Run Media, is an instructor trainer for Emergency First Response, an international CPR and first aid training organization.


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