STARS air ambulance and the Lifesaving Society are teaming up to promote water safety in Winnipeg as part of National Drowning Prevention Week. Approximately 500 Canadians drown every year, including 15 Manitobans in 2014.
Paramedics and representatives from STARS and the Lifesaving Society carried out demonstrations Tuesday morning on a pediatric training mannequin in order to educate the public.
"I think there's definitely an element of, 'It can't happen to me' or 'It's not going to happen to me' … I think that it's easy to forget about the constant risk when we're playing in and around with water", says Paul Faurschou, a flight paramedic with STARS and former lifeguard, "But that's why we have events like this to remind people that the best thing we can do is to take steps to prevent that from happening."
Calling 911 immediately, good CPR and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) can increase survival but the Lifesaving Society said prevention is most important.
Christopher Love with the Lifesaving Society warns that Manitobans are especially at risk for natural water drowning. "Manitoba is rich with waterways. We have tons of rivers, tons of lakes, which means it's very easy for someone to end up near a body of water", said Love.
Summer is a crucial time, with 66 per cent of drownings occurring in May through September, peaking in July and August.
The Lifesaving Society says public education is the best way to prevent drownings, and recommends that people enroll in lifesaving courses, including swimming and CPR training.