How To Perform CPR on a Drowning Casualty

How To Perform CPR on a Drowning Casualty


Hello this is Cory from the First Aid Training Co-operative and today we’ve got a video clip of how we would do CPR for an adult who we suspected had drowned.

We’ve got a mannequin here which is used for demonstration purposes and I’m just going to run through a sequence of why we’re do if I suspected someone had drowned.

So just imagining I’m walking through the park walking past the lake in the park and someone is lying at the end of the lake in the water.

The first thing I would doing is to stop and assess for danger and make sure it’s safe for me.

If they’re lying in the water, maybe I’m going to think about dragging them out of the water onto the shore, if it’s safe to do so.

I’m certainly thinking about cross contamination issues, and then I’m going to check to see if the casualty is alert once everything is safe.

Hello can you hear me? My name is Cory, I’m a First Aider – Can you hear me? Can you open your eyes? I’m touching your shoulder. 

There is no response.

So I shout for help

Help, help, help, is anyone there, can I have some help?

Now, I open the casualties airway with a head tilt and chin lift andI\’m gonna check the breathing.

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I’ve got a non-breathing casualty, we’ve just pulled them out of the water, they’re dripping wet so I’m going to suspect drowning.

We need to give this casualty oxygen so I’m gonna give them five rescue breaths and then we’re going to go straight into 30 compressions.

Hands in the center of their chest, my arms straight, my shoulders over my hands, press the chest by five to six centimetres.


Then, two more breaths and compressions again.


So for this casualty who we found potential drowning we give them five rescue breaths, put lots of oxygen into their lungs, we’ve done 30 compressions, trying to move the blood through the heart to pick-up the oxygen.

We’ve done another 2 breaths and this is another set of 30 compressions.

I’m hoping within this sequence the casualty might have a re-oxygenated bloodstream and the heart might start beating effectively again and I’ll see signs of circulation.

So the casualty might flush pink, we might see signs of life.

If we don’t see any signs of life after five breaths, 30 compressions, two breaths 30 compressions, two breaths 30 compressions, we need to get help.

So I’ve got my phone and I’m going to call the emergency services. So I’m going to dial 999 or 111 and ask for an ambulance, tell them where we’re at and tell them I’ve gotten non-breathing unresponsive casualty who I suspect has drowned.

Once the emergency services are on their way I’m going to continue with my CPR 30 compressions 2 breaths continuously until help arrives and that’s our adult drowning CPR protocol.


In summary then for adult drowning CPR, as soon as we realize the casualty is not breathing, we’re going to give the casualty five rescue breaths.

We will do 30 compressions, two breaths, 30 compressions, two breaths, 30 compressions, two breaths.

The casualty in that initial sequence may well come round. If they haven’t come round we need to call the emergency services to tell them where we’re at. Tell them we suspect drowning and that we need an AED.

While waiting for help to arrive we’re going to continue our CPR protocol of 30 compressions, then 2 breaths continuously.