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July 4, 1986

The Resuscitation of Near-Drowning Victims

Author Affiliations

From the Section of Emergency Medical Services, Department of Internal Medicine, the Medical College of Virginia, Richmond.

JAMA. 1986;256(1):75-77. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380010079029

DROWNING causes almost 9000 deaths in the United States each year out of an estimated 80 000 near-drowning incidents.1 Males between the ages of 10 and 19 years are the most common victims. Fortunately, only about one of every nine or ten underwater submersion accidents results in death. When death occurs, the term "drowning" is applied. "Near-drowning" is the term used when there is at least temporary survival from suffocation by submersion.2

The usual sequence of events in the animal model of drowning is initial breath holding followed by the swallowing of large amounts of water, vomiting, terminal gasping with flooding of the lungs, and death.3 Animal models of near-drowning in the laboratory do not precisely mimic human drowning in natural waters.4-6 This must be taken into account when extrapolating results of animal research to clinical resuscitation. Less hemodilution is noted in humans than in animals,