Reprinted from The American Heart Association

Just back from a run with her husband, Laura Metro heard her 6 year old daughter, Maison, screaming “I think Clay died! I think Clay died!”

Metro’s 3- year- old son who was swimming with family friends was found at the bottom of the pool with his towel.

One friend started CPR-or the closest thing he knew based on what he’d seen on TV -on Clays blue lifeless body.

Paramedics arrived and got Clay’s heart beating again. He was taken by helicopter to the hospital and spent two days in a coma before making what metro calls “nothing short of a miraculous recovery”.

“The doctors said, ‘We don’t know why he is alive. The only thing – the only thing – we can attribute it to is the bystander CPR,” Metro said. He didn’t see the inside of a hospital for an hour and a half after almost drowning. The bystander CPR “was really what did it.”

Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury related deaths, according to the World Health Organization. The agency estimates there are 360,000 annual drowning deaths worldwide.

The Metros’ good fortune is anecdotal evidence of the findings from a study published in the June 2017 edition of the Journal Resuscitation which found that chances for neurological recovery from a near-drowning increases when the victim receives CPR from a bystander.

“We would advocate for parents knowing CPR, and particularly if they have a pool, they should become familiar and get trained in mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing.” Said Dr Michael Sayre, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle. “Whereas hands-only CPR is typically focused on someone who is not in the water and collapses suddenly for other reasons, people under water die because of lack of oxygen.”

After Clay’s recovery, Metro founded a nonprofit called CPR Party, using the model of at-home shopping parties to encourage people to teach and learn CPR. The lessons aren’t equal to official CPR certification, Metro said but “they will know what to do and hopefully, we create a bridge to certification. We just give then that basic knowledge to empower them.”

About one in five people who die from drowning are 14 years old or younger, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal injuries, often including brain damage. The numbers are particularly discouraging, experts say, because in many, cases drowning is preventable.

“The biggest thing we try to get through to people is you need to maintain constant, active supervision when people are in the water,” said Ada Katchmarchi, executive director of the Nation Drowning Prevention Alliance. “Regardless of age and swimming ability, you should never swim alone. You should always swim around someone who’s keeping that vigilant watch over the water, whether that be a parent in a backyard pool or whether you’re swimming a life guarded area.”

On its website, the NDPA stresses what it calls “layers of protection,” including swimmer training, facility safety and parental responsibilities designed to prevent drowning.

“We’re used to the ‘Baywatch’ drowning, where people see on TV that someone’s going to be waving their arms and screaming for help,” he said.

“An actual drowning victim, when they’re in the 20-60 second fight for survival, they’re unable to call for help because all of their energy is being used to keep their head above water. A lot of times they’re bobbing up and down, going under and re-emerging and trying to get air so it’s really difficult for them to call for help,” Katchmarchi said.

“It’s really easy to say, ‘Oh, I’m watching my kids, ‘but you’re scrolling through Facebook or your Twitter feed…Even if you’re distracted for just a short period of time, it can happen really quickly and really silently.”

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