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<< Pediatric Submersion Injuries: Emergency Care And Resuscitation (Trauma CME)

Pathophysiology

The “instinctive drowning response” has been described as a drowning victim being unable to wave or cry for help because breathing instinctively takes priority. Instead, the person is typically in an upright position with arms extended to the sides, thrashing and slapping the water. The head may surface several times during this struggle, but the victim is unable to call for help. It is estimated that children can only struggle for 20 to 30 seconds before final submersion and that adults may be able to struggle for up to 60 seconds.20

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