Bystander basic life support: an important link in the chain of survival for children suffering a drowning or near-drowning episode

Jeanette Marchant, Nicholas G Cheng, Lawrence T Lam, Fiona E Fahy, S V Soundappan, Danny T Cass and Gary J Browne
Med J Aust 2008; 188 (8): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2008.tb01725.x
Published online: 21 April 2008

Eight children suffered drowning or near-drowning in Sydney pools over an 11-day period in January 2007. Four received basic life support (BLS) within 5 minutes of immersion and survived with good functional neurological outcomes. The other four were not discovered for ≥ 5 minutes and all died. This cluster serves as a reminder that timely effective bystander BLS is crucial to survival and good clinical outcomes in near-drowning episodes.

During an 11-day period in January 2007, eight children presented to several emergency departments in the Sydney metropolitan region after a drowning or near-drowning event. While these incidents are known to be more common in summer, it is relatively uncommon to have such a cluster of cases occurring within a short period of time.

  • Jeanette Marchant1
  • Nicholas G Cheng1
  • Lawrence T Lam2
  • Fiona E Fahy2
  • S V Soundappan2
  • Danny T Cass2,3
  • Gary J Browne1

  • 1 Department of Emergency Medicine, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, NSW.
  • 2 Centre for Trauma Care, Prevention, Education, and Research, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, NSW.
  • 3 University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.


Competing interests:

None identified.


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