Resuscitation of drowned person during COVID19

Last week, the joint work of ILS, IMRF and IDRA about the Resuscitation of Drowned Persons During the COVID-19 Pandemic has been published on the prestigious scientific journal JAMA Network Open and available in open access thanks to the support of the Maastschappij tot Redding van Drenkelingen (The Netherlands).

IMPORTANCE Resuscitation is a niche example of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected society in the long term. Those trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) face the dilemma that attempting to save a life may result in their own harm. This is most of all a problem for drowning, where hypoxia is the cause of cardiac arrest and ventilation is the essential first step in reversing the situation.

OBJECTIVE To develop recommendations for water rescue organizations in providing their rescuers with safe drowning resuscitation procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

EVIDENCE REVIEW Two consecutive modified Delphi procedures involving 56 participants from 17 countries with expertise in drowning prevention research, resuscitation, and programming were performed from March 28, 2020, to March 29, 2021. In parallel, PubMed and Google Scholar were searched to identify new emerging evidence relevant to each core element, acknowledge previous studies relevant in the new context, and identify knowledge gaps.

FINDINGS Seven core elements, each with their own specific recommendations, were identified in the initial consensus procedure and were grouped into 4 categories: (1) prevention and mitigation of the risks of becoming infected, (2) resuscitation of drowned persons during the COVID-19 pandemic, (3) organizational responsibilities, and (4) organizations unable to meet the recommended guidelines. The common measures of infection risk mitigation, personal protective equipment, and vaccination are the base of the recommendations. Measures to increase drowning prevention efforts reduce the root cause of the dilemma. Additional infection risk mitigation measures include screening all people entering aquatic facilities, defining criteria for futile resuscitation, and avoiding contact with drowned persons by rescuers with a high-risk profile. Ventilation techniques must balance required skill level, oxygen delivery, infection risk, and costsof equipment and training. Bag-mask ventilation with a high-efficiency particulate air filter by 2 trained rescuers is advised. Major implications for the methods, facilities, and environment of CPR training have been identified, including nonpractical skills to avoid being infected or to infect others. Most of all, the organization is responsible for informing their members about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and taking measures that maximize rescuer safety. Research is urgently needed to better understand, develop, and implement strategies to reduce infection transmission during drowning resuscitation.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE This consensus document provides an overview of recommendations for water rescue organizations to improve the safety of their rescuers during the COVID-19 pandemic and balances the competing interests between a potentially lifesaving intervention and risk to the rescuer. The consensus-based recommendations can also serve as an example for other volunteer organizations and altruistic laypeople who may provide resuscitation.

You may view the full Consensus Statement here.

Queiroga AC, Dunne C, Manino LA, van der Linden T, Mecrow T, Bierens J. Resuscitation of Drowned Persons During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Consensus Statement. JAMA Netw Open. 2022 Feb 1;5(2):e2147078. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.47078. PMID: 35133441.