SPECIAL REPORT: What to do for a drowning victim after you call 911

You've probably been spending time by the lake or pool this summer.

Most of the time everything is fine. But sometimes a child or adult begins to drown.

The average ambulance response time is within 8 minutes. When you're dealing with a respiratory or cardiac emergency, time is of the essence. So what do you do after you pull a loved one out of the water and call 911?

In his special report, which you can watch in the video player above, WSBT 22's Ed Russo walks you through some things you can do -- after dialing 911 -- to help save a life.

The most important -- CPR.

We've seen it on television, we've seen it in real life.

It's a tool that can save lives when seconds count.

In the video above, Ed went a little beyond the basics, so you can be prepared to save a loved one -- or a complete stranger -- before the ambulance arrives.

"As a retired paramedic, there's nothing more disheartening than to come into a major scene where CPR needs to be done prior to our arrival and to see that nobody's been trained or no one knows” says Bob Pratt, executive director of education for the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project

Again, the average ambulance response time is within 8 minutes.

"By the time they get to the vehicle, drive the vehicle here, find where we're at on the beachbest case scenariowithout oxygen for 3, 4, 5 minutes."

But what if you could do something before that 3,4,5 minutes?

In a drowning situation, things happen fast, and irreversible brain injury occurs within minutes if CPR is not performed.

When a person is actively drowning, they will submerge within 60 seconds. After two minutes of submersion, a drowning victim has a 94 percent survival rate if CPR is performed properly.

Around 3 minutes, the heart may stop.

At four minutes, irreversible brain damage occurs.

At ten minutes of submersion, chances of survival drop to 14 percent – even if CPR is performed properly.

Survivors will likely have moderate to severe brain injury.

Now comes the question, how and what kind of CPR do you perform?

In a heart attack situation, the victim stops breathing and the heart has stopped beating. Oxygen is already present in the body, which is why compression only CPR can be effective.

But a drowning situation is a respiratory emergency and rescue breaths are critical.

"If we have a child, because typically children don't have heart attacks, or we have a drowning where we pull someone out of the water, the problem is not their heart,” says Pratt. “Their heart may have stopped, but it hasn't stopped because of a heart attack. It stopped because there is no longer any oxygen in their body and oxygen is required in order for the heart muscle to beat."

When you pull a person out of the water, shake them or shout at them to see if they are unconscious. If you have no response and there's no pulse or no breathing, CPR needs to be performed.

First, dial 911, then perform 2 breaths on an adult to inflate the lungs and then do 30 compressions at the rate of 100 compressions per minute.

For a child or infant, perform 2 breaths and then 15 compressions at the rate of 100 compressions per minute. Keep alternating between breaths and compressions until you get a response.

The best way to keep everyone safe around water is to know the concept of Safer 3.

Safer water means having a latching pool cover or protective gate along with floatables to throw someone in distress.

Safer people means making sure everyone in your group, especially children, have basic swimming skills.

Safer response means having an emergency action plan in place in case you need to save someone's life.

Knowing some form of CPR is absolutely critical. It's easy to become trained and certified. It's fairly cheap depending on the level of certification that you want to obtain.

"There are several agencies that do CPR training,” said Pratt. “The American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, a lot of YMCA's, a lot of fire departments will have Red Cross trainingsjust do a little online search and you should be able to find somebody that does C{R training within a couple of miles of where you live."

Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children 1 to 4.

It's the second leading cause of accidental death in children under the age of 15.

And it's the fifth leading cause of accidental death in the nation as a whole.

The situation goes from bad to worse, fast. Knowing just the basics behind CPR can easily save a life when seconds matter.

What if the person just has no idea what to even do with regards to CPR? That's why dialing 911 first is so important.

All 911 dispatchers are trained to properly instruct you how to perform CPR over the phone.

But already knowing just the basics first can only help the situation as the victim will be getting help in the fastest way possible.

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