Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning

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dmaziuk

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In my class, we were taught to approach the victim and just before we would be in their reach, dive under, grab their ankles, spin them so their back is to you, swim up while keeping in contact and then put them in the "rescue hold" and swim back. Done right, it is very very quick and seamless, under 2 seconds, and you will be in complete control of the victim. I was never taught to "knock them out".

In Soviet Russia victim ankles spin you.
 

boulderjohn

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In my class, we were taught to approach the victim and just before we would be in their reach, dive under, grab their ankles, spin them so their back is to you, swim up while keeping in contact and then put them in the "rescue hold" and swim back. Done right, it is very very quick and seamless, under 2 seconds, and you will be in complete control of the victim. I was never taught to "knock them out".

I knew my instructor, guy was 3 inches taller then me, and out weighed me by at least 50 pounds, excellent swimmer and in great condition. He kicked my ass when I had to "rescue" him and swim him back the length of an Olympic sized pool, fought me constantly, trying to grab me and drown me, but I controlled him the whole why, even to the point of spinning me under as I was swimming him back. Way more than I believe you would ever encounter.
You don't need to spin the diver--just come up behind him or her. If you grab the inflator hose and inflate the BCD as you surface, the problem should end right there. Once fully buoyant, the panicked diver will almost certainly calm down. The idea that a fully buoyant victim with maul their rescuer on the way to shore is, IMO, a ridiculous scenario just designed to make the rescue process seem harder. If I had fully inflated the victim's BCD and the victim started acting like that, I would pull away. If the victim is fully buoyant and does not want my help, why should I provide it?

Speaking of making the simple process harder, when I had to do the above scenario in my rescue class, I dived down to go completely under the panicked diver, who was a fellow student. That supposedly panicked diver inverted and swam down after me, tackling me deep under water and putting me in a bear hug. The instructor explained to him that panicked divers don't do that. They prefer to be on the surface. I think his actions were similar to a fully buoyant victim mauling the rescuer all the way to shore.
 

Pedro Burrito

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I'm reminded of Sara Lott, age 12, a cute little red head who drowned in 2008. She was at a swim party at a community pool in Northern Virginia with her team mates from a travel soccer club. They were busy celebrating and dancing in the pool and no one saw Sara slip below the surface and was at the bottom in relatively shallow water. By the time someone noticed, she had drowned. There was no thrashing or screaming. According to the accounts at the time, she was on the surface one moment and then gone.
 

60plus

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About 15 years ago we were in a seawater pool at Morecambe, a sort of wall built into the sea that refilled with each tide. Most of it was shallow but nearer the outer part of the wall the sandy bottom sloped steeply to about 8 ft deep at the wall. My children (about 5 and 7 years old) were good swimmers and it was interesting against the wall with many crabs and fish. A lad slightly older than them wandered over towards us and I did not really take any notice until he disappeared under the water and did not come back up again apart from the odd waving hand. I swam over to him and pulled him to the surface with my arm round his chest from behind and got him to the wall were he got his breath back. He could not swim, he had seen mine and other small children and did not realise it was so deep. He was lucky, I was the only adult within 100 yards and his grandmother who was looking after him was asleep on a deck chair.
 

Dan

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Here is my drowning story. When I was 5 years old, I played chicken with my friend near a pool. He accidentally pushed me into the pool. I struggled to stay afloat but slowly drowning. I struggled to breathe, swallowing water and feeling better every time I swallowed water, then swallowed more water. Pretty soon my body sank to the bottom of the pool. While lying on the bottom of the pool looking up to the surface, everything seemed so calm and peaceful. I felt like a fish. Then I saw a shadow approaching to me from the surface. It was my dad. He brought me back to the surface. Once we were back on the dry ground, he just grabbed on one of my ankles, lifted me upside down, tapped a couple of times on my tummy until I puked out the water. Since then I learnt how to swim like a fish.
 

John C. Ratliff

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I found another one before reading your post, because I wasn't sure what it would really look like. You can see what's going on a little better in this video. In this one, the kid looks to me like he's swimming around just fine. By the time you realize he isn't, you can't see him at all. The kid didn't make it, despite being about 1 foot from a friend.

All the kid needed to do was extend a leg to help this boy. What a tragedy!

I've noticed in some of these stories about divers almost drowning, not inflating their BCDs, sinking, etc., is that they were wearing SCUBA, but did not grab their mouthpiece and start breathing off the SCUBA. It's as if they forgot they had a source of breathing air while underwater.

I've had several encounters over the years. I'll discuss these, and then post a video I took this summer of a "situation" that could have gone badly, in my estimation.

Swimmers "Tubing"
In the 1960s I took some kids fishing while I was in high school to the Little North Fork of the North Santiam River. We were above a series of rapids. Earlier, we had been in a pool below this rapids when a guy popped up in the pool. These rapids were about 200 yards long, and ended with much of the river going under a large (60 to 80 foot high) rock. This guy was wearing a life jacket, and we assisted him out of the water. He had been pulled under the rock, battered around a bit on rocks, and surfaced in the pool.

About half an hour after that we were above the main rapids when we saw an inner tube come right by us as we were fishing. On the inner tube were a girl about 10 years old, and two younger children (boys, as I remember). As they swung by us, the girl said in a soft voice, "Help us." I jumped in and John McKeon also jumped in to pull the tube with these kids out of the water. They were headed down the same rapids that the guy had just recently gone through, but none of them had life jackets on.

Clackamas River Swimmer

I regularly dive the same section of the Clackamas River near Gladstone. About ten years ago, I was ending my dive, which was a float from High Rocks to Cross Park, and starting to get out of the water. I looked across the river and noticed a swimmer who was "swimming" and bobbing in the water. He was alternatively taking a few strokes, and then going underwater, and taking a few more. I decided to swim over to him and see what was happening. He was not going fast at all, so I caught up pretty easily with him. I stayed beside him, and though we were next to each other, couldn't talk much because he spoke Spanish and I spoke English.

Anyway, he made it to the far shore, and then had to swim back to his party on the north shore. Again, he was alternatively swimming and bobbing, and I noted that he would push off the bottom (the water was about 9 feet, or two meters, deep. Then he started getting really tired, and near the north shore was a much faster current. As he "swam" he got disoriented, and started inadvertently headed directly down current, toward some mild rapids and much deeper water. I was in my fins and snorkeling with my SCUBA unit, and so I turned him around so that he was again headed into the current and a bit toward the north shore (crabbing). He made the north shore a few minutes later, and he and I both exited.

I was getting out when a Gladstone police officer met me and I told him what was happening. Then his radio went off, and he said, "I have to take this." He then said into the radio, "He's right here, and I'm talking to him." This officer was there to check on me, since the High Rocks lifeguards had inquired because I was overdue from the time I told them I would be back to tell them I was okay. It was heartening to know that they had contacted the officer when I hadn't come back on time from me solo dive.

In-water Lifejacket Problem
I'll be posting a video here of a gal who ran into problems with a lifejacket someone had thrown to her, that she could not get into. This video is one that I inadvertently filmed as my helmet camera remained on after my dive. I noted that she was having problems, but no one was attending to her even though she was within feet of her swim mates. I have to upload it to YouTube, but it will be here within a day or so. Looking at this thread, I think she may have been in more difficulty than I had realized at the time.

This video was filmed last June, 2021. The water temperature was about 68 degrees F, depth of the hole was 22 feet (about 7 meters) deep, and this video shows the difficulty of putting on a lifejacket in the water. But this also shows some of the same markers that were talked about on this thread for recognizing a drowning victim. The gal on the paddleboard was a lifeguard assigned to this section of the river.

At the time, I felt it was not a life threatening emergency, but that she was having difficulty. My motto from my U.S. Air Force days is "These Things We Do, That Others May Live." I also say that "Nobody drowns in my section of the river while I'm there."

SeaRat
 

Jersey

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Here is my drowning story. When I was 5 years old, I played chicken with my friend near a pool. He accidentally pushed me into the pool. I struggled to stay afloat but slowly drowning. I struggled to breathe, swallowing water and feeling better every time I swallowed water, then swallowed more water. Pretty soon my body sank to the bottom of the pool. While lying on the bottom of the pool looking up to the surface, everything seemed so calm and peaceful. I felt like a fish. Then I saw a shadow approaching to me from the surface. It was my dad. He brought me back to the surface. Once we were back on the dry ground, he just grabbed on one of my ankles, lifted me upside down, tapped a couple of times on my tummy until I puked out the water. Since then I learnt how to swim like a fish.

My drowning story is almost exactly like Dans, I was 4, off the aluminum decking around an above ground pool. 55 years later remember laying there looking up through the water and seeing my dad's arm lean down and grab me up almost immediately. My mother never learned to swim and she kept eagle eyes on us around water.

My rescue happened at Dutch Springs. I was trying a DPV with my instructor after my Advanced course wrapped up. The shop was also running OW. I was hanging off the dock w/ my DPV waiting for my instructor when I noticed one of the OW students, mask on, no reg in, bobbing and slipping under about 20-30 foot away. I yelled over put your reg in and inflate your BC. No response. Yelled a second time. He heard me, looking straight at me, we made eye contact. Nothing. Unclipped my DPV, swam over, inflated his BC, put his reg in and hauled him back to the dock. My instructor was walking down the hill at the time and saw the whole thing. His first words - congratulations, you're ready for rescue course.
 
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