Young Female Drowns During Field Trip

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Dr. Tom J. Griffiths ::::

Case Synopsis: During a field trip sponsored by a non-profit group in the city, a young, female non-swimmer drowned in a large, guarded public swimming pool.  The swimming pool did in fact offer two additional significant safety “layers of protection” for the group.  First, a safety lecture was provided to the group prior to entering the water.  Secondly, the non-swimmers in the group were identified with wrist bands to further safeguard them.  The certified lifeguards appeared to be well trained and additional training was provided by the City, above and beyond what the lifeguards received in their training course just prior to the summer season. 

Expert Analysis: This tragedy exemplifies what can go wrong when groups inundate swimming pools.  Counselors assigned to the group were not trained in water safety and perhaps relied too heavily on the lifeguards to provide professional surveillance of the group utilizing the swimming pool.  Conversely, lifeguards may have been too reliant on the counselors to know the swimming abilities of their children they brought to the pool and keep them safe.  Tragically, with both lifeguards and counselors on the premises, the young, female, non-swimmer somehow entered the deep end of the swimming pool unnoticed and drowned.  Neither counselors nor lifeguards ever detected the child underwater, but rather, it was a maintenance worker who spotted her motionless body on the bottom of the pool.

Conclusion: Identifying non-swimmers is not sufficient.  Non-swimmers need to be fitted in properly fitting Coast Guard lifejackets in order to prevent drowning. Additionally, better group use pool policies must be developed.

 

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