Another swimming season approaches in Cincinnati and other northern cities. Unfortunately, Cincinnati has already experienced a drowning tragedy which was very likely preventable. A four year old boy drowned at a suburban community center with lifeguards on duty. Lifeguards should be trained to spot a distressed swimmer quickly and intervene before they can drown.
The recognized standard of care in the pool and water park industry is called the 10/20 Rule. Lifeguards should be trained and positioned in such a way that they are constantly scanning their zone in the pool. Lifeguards should be trained to spot a distressed swimmer within 10 seconds and reach that individual within 20 seconds. That means no one should be in trouble more than 30 seconds. Generally people cannot drown in 30 seconds and rarely have a permanent injury from being under water for 30 seconds. No matter who falls in the water, no matter how they sink to the bottom, lifeguards should be able to recognize the signs of distress and save them.
Drowning takes several minutes under water with no oxygen. If lifeguards are properly trained, and positioned, they should never allow anyone to remain under water for 2-3 minutes. Failure to reach a distressed swimmer within 30 seconds is a violation of lifeguarding standards.
Hopefully, the tragic death in Cincinnati will alert pool operators and lifeguards to understand we count on them to remain vigilant at all times to save those of us who go under the water and can’t get to the surface.