Drowning for love: the aquatic victim-instead-of-rescuer syndrome: drowning fatalities involving those attempting to rescue a child

Franklin, Richard C., and Pearn, John H. (2011) Drowning for love: the aquatic victim-instead-of-rescuer syndrome: drowning fatalities involving those attempting to rescue a child. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 47 (1-2). pp. 44-47.

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Abstract

Introduction: Non-intentional child drowning remains a leading cause of child mortality. A related and secondary syndrome is composed of those who drown in impulsive, altruistic attempts to go to the aid of a drowning child. Such 'rescuers' who attempt to save a drowning child may themselves drown, a tragic event we term the AVIR syndrome or aquatic victim-instead-of-rescuer.

Methods: This study is composed of a five-year (1 July 2002 to 30 June 2007) total population Australian survey, using the National Coroners Information System to identify cases and an analysis of every immersion rescuer–victim dyad where the primary 'victim' was a child and where the 'rescuer' drowned.

Results: In Australia (2002–2007), 17 rescuers drowned in 15 incidents in which the primary victim was a drowning child. In 93% of the incidents, the primary 'child–victim' survived, 82% of the victims were unfamiliar with the aquatic location (i.e. were a visitor) and 76% of the victims were a male parent, partner of first-degree relative. Alcohol was not generally involved.

Conclusion: We define the AVIR syndrome as one that typically involves the following: a male, parent, partner or relative; an unfamiliar water hazard; a 'rescuer' who is a tourist; alcohol is not usually involved; and the primary victim usually survives. We posit that an increased awareness of such risks, the promotion of rudimentary rescue skills (e.g. being able to throw a lifeline) and increased advocacy for parents to learn the simple and basic life-saving skills of non-contact rescue will help reduce these drowning tragedies.

Item ID: 16214
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: drowning; lifesaving; non-contact water rescue; prevention; water safety
ISSN: 1440-1754
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2011 05:00
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111704 Community Child Health @ 50%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111712 Health Promotion @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920409 Injury Control @ 100%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 2
Downloads: Total: 3
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