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Abstract

In Australia, 86 “rescuers” have drowned over 15 years (1992-2007). Many victims have needlessly drowned simply because of bystander unfamiliarity with the simple skill of throwing a lifeline or lifebuoy. The basic paradigm of aquatic lifesaving is to affect a rescue, without placing oneself at risk. Twenty-five fit, untrained adults were opportunistically recruited to assess their lifeline throwing abilities. Results from 190 competitors as participants in the Line Throw events at the National Australian Pool Lifesaving Competition 2009 were analyzed for speed, efficacy and accuracy. It takes a medium time of 35 s for an untrained bystander to throw a lifeline. Only 20% can throw a line within 2m of the “target” at a first attempt. In the heat of the moment, 20% do not secure the end of the flung rope. Trained children can effect a 10 m accurate throw and pull a potential victim to safety with a medium elapsed time of 23 s. The Australian national record for trained lifesavers (adult, 12 meter), is 10.08 s - world record 9.06 s. This simple lifesaving technique, with training in improvisation (e.g. garden hoses) will undoubtedly save lives.

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