MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. -- A drowning can happen in seconds.. and from that moment, seconds count, say first responders whose job it is to save lives.
"Every minute that goes by, the chances of the person surviving decrease 10 percent if you do no CPR," said Lester Oliva, Community Educator for MEDIC. "CPR would actually increase their chances anywhere between 2 to 3 times."
So we asked Oliva the first thing a parent should do if they pull a child unconscious from a pool.
"They need to call 911 if they need help, right away," he answered without hesitation. Realizing a parent's first instinct is to try to save the child, Oliva suggests shouting for someone to call 911 while beginning CPR.
First, give two rescue breaths. Just tilt the child's head back, pinch the nose, and blow into the mouth -- or nose and mouth for an infant -- using small breaths because of the size of the baby's lungs.
For an older child, tilt the head back, pinch the nose, and blow into the mouth.
Then do 30 chest compressions, and two breaths again. For a large child, use two hands on the middle of the chest; on a smaller child you may need to use one. With an infant, use two fingers and press the chest between the nipples.
Compressions should be done quickly -- about the speed of the song "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees. A 911 operator is trained to talk you through it -- and even count -- if you need help. They're also sending help, so it's important to call them as soon as possible.
Take the child with you to the phone if necessary, and if it's a baby – you can perform CPR and rescue breaths as you walk.
The first person to discover a drowning child could be the difference between life and death – or full recovery and a lifetime of disabilities, said Oliva.
"Nobody is going to be quicker than the bystander," he said, "so for you to do something -- even if you're not trained, even if you're not sure what to do -- do something."
Most importantly, said Oliva – don't wait for an emergency to learn CPR. The American Red Cross and American Heart Association offer classes and online videos, and MEDIC offers free 90-minute classes along with step-by-step instructions on its website.
If you're interested in MEDIC's classes, you can
"By taking a class, watching a video, playing the scenario in your head -- when it's time to act, you will," said Oliva.