How To Apply First Aid To A Near Drowning Victim?

By Subodh / December 24, 2013

Performing CPR on a drowning or a near drowning victim can be tricky. It is a little complicated from what your first aid teacher may have conveyed or what you may have seen on television. On television the victims almost always make it but in real life this may not always be the case. The first thing you need to remember is that you really need to press hard on the victim’s chest, as hard as probably if you wanted to break their ribs. The other thing you need to keep in mind that when the victim is revived he or she will not just spit out water but will vomit either during or after resuscitation.

The real life way of performing CPR on a drowning victim


Over the past couple of years hands only type CPR is a big priority for non-medical people. So, all you need to do is to provide good compression on the victim’s chest at the rate of a hundred beats a minute. This is perhaps similar to the rhythm of songs like “Stayin Alive”. At times you may have to add mouth to mouth with chest compressions but this will depend on what results you get from just chest compressions. That being said just using hands only type CPR may not be the best way because the person who was drowning most likely passed out due to a lack of oxygen.

Now you may not see this a lot of television but the best time to start CPR is when you’re still in the water. Start with mouth to mouth if they are not breathing. But only do this is it does not endanger you. Mouth to mouth will help to put some oxygen into the victim’s body then when you get them to land some chest compressions along with mouth to mouth can revive them.


Opening the airway

  1. To open the victim’s airway you need to put your fingers around in their mouth in order to remove blocks caused by debris
  2. If you see that there is water in the mouth then turn the victim to their side or pull their middle a bit in order to allow the water to drain. You shouldn’t waste valuable time if the water does not come out or all of it does not drain.
  3. In order to open the airway you’ll have to use the so called “jaw-jut” technique. This requires that you place both hands’ fingers on this person’s jaw under the years, then just their jaw forward. You should be careful not to move the neck.
  4. Then put your ears to their nose in order to listen for any breathing. Also watch for any movement in the chest.

If there is no breathing observed

If the victim is not breathing you’ll need to pinch their nose and seal your mouth shut over theirs. Their jaw will have to be kept jutted throughout the process. Then blow hard until you see their chest rise. Do this every two seconds. If their chest does not rise, then check for any obstruction in their airway again and try and reposition the jaw as well as ensure that you have a seal over their mouth with yours.

First Aid Green Cross

Check their carotid artery or wrist for a pulse

  • If they have a pulse but no breath then continue with mouth to mouth every five seconds.
  • In the event that there is no pulse then their chest will have to be compressed, with the elbows straight, and the palms facing down. The chest will need to be compressed around two inches. You do this while counting out aloud. When you hit thirty get another person to give the victim two deep breaths or you can do it yourself. The important thing is that the chest should move if it does not then you’re not giving it enough power.

If they vomit

If the victim throws some vomit then turn them to one side and wipe it out with your fingers then reposition them on their back again. Continue doing this till emergency services arrive and can give the victim some professional first aid which may be the only way to save them.