World Conference on Drowning Prevention 2017

Earlier this year we put the call out to volunteers to apply for an LSV scholarship to attend the World Conference on Drowning Prevention 2017 in Vancouver, a three-day event which commenced yesterday.

Volunteer James Carew was selected to attend with other LSV delegates, the scholarship covering conference registration, airfares, accommodation, transfers and meals. The conference provides James with exposure to the latest international research, policies and practices relating to lifesaving and drowning prevention.

James, a paramedic student, has been a patrolling member at Lorne Surf Life Saving Club for over half his life and has gained broad experience in lifesaving over the past 17 years as a trainer, assessor, committee member, district officer and pool lifeguard.


Here’s his take on Day One of the #WCDP2017:

800 delegates representing 80 countries were welcomed to Vancouver by Mr Alec Dan, leader of the First Nations Musqueam people, to the World Conference on Drowning Prevention 2017.

Beginning with presentations by honorary guests, delegates attended concurrent sessions covering prevention techniques, rescue strategies, swimming education, data analysis, medical research and partnership opportunities.

The focus of the sessions I attended on Day 1 was medical research within International Lifesaving, with the most exciting evidence based change being the introduction of real time quality CPR feedback during training and assessment.

The Royal Life Saving Society UK – RLSS UK conducted a pilot program earlier this year, seeing a notable improvement in resuscitation skills among lifeguards receiving performance feedback and there has been some interesting research conducted by Surf Life Saving New Zealand around lifeguards’/lifesavers’ confidence in performing paediatric versus adult CPR.



Day Two – Highlights from the #WCDP2017:

A presentation by Joanna Talbot from the Royal Lifesaving Society UK highlighted the value of early access defibrillation in U.K. public pools where having an AED is at the discretion of pool operators. Joanna noted a cardiac arrest survival rate of 75% over a 7 year period within a group of 100 leisure centres, where staff received regular skills maintenance training.

Emergence of new technology continues with the potential to have an application on lifesaving operation activities, however the case for this technology will vary at a local level.

Similar to the work conducted by Life Saving Victoria in Sri Lanka, the RNLI are working in Bangladesh. John Powell from the RNLI is working to provide low resourced communities access to affordable and sustainable equipment solutions as current lifesaving equipment innovations are targeted to the developed world. Through providing a suite of manufacturing manuals, equipment can be manufactured locally at a low cost, promoting the sustainability of lifesaving in developing nations.


Day Three – World Conference on Drowning Prevention

Today’s morning session had some interesting presentations from research conducted at various beaches around the world, however the results were quite location specific. A study conducted in California created a correlation between the frequency of rescue and environmental factors such as wave height and tide, another attempted to correlate spinal injuries with shore gradient.

At the afternoon session the most notable presentation was on the evolution of remote emergency alarm system deployed throughout NSW by SLSNSW.

A presentation on in-water spinal column immobilisation highlighted the continued variance of suspected spinal injury management around the world in light of the most recent International Life Saving Federation medical position.

The conference was an excellent opportunity to meet advocates for development around the world and I’d encourage anyone interested in research to seek out opportunities to showcase the progressive nature of lifesaving in Australia.

I’d like to thank LSV and its delegates for the opportunity to attend the World Conference on Drowning Prevention.

James Carew

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