Water-Related Incidents – EMS SG

Water-Related Incidents: Understanding the Pathology, Causes, Signs, and Paramedic Treatment

Water-related incidents pose significant risks to individuals and require swift and efficient response from paramedics. These incidents encompass a range of emergencies, including drowning, near-drowning, and marine animal stings. Understanding the pathology behind these incidents, the underlying causes, and recognizing the signs and symptoms at different stages is crucial for paramedics to provide effective and lifesaving treatment to those affected.

Pathology Behind Water-Related Incidents:
Water-related incidents can lead to respiratory distress and, in severe cases, hypoxia (lack of oxygen supply to body tissues) due to submersion in water. Drowning occurs when the airway is obstructed by water, leading to asphyxia, while near-drowning refers to surviving a drowning event but may still suffer from respiratory impairment and complications. In the case of marine animal stings, envenomation from creatures like jellyfish or stingrays can cause localized pain and potentially systemic reactions due to the injection of toxins into the victim’s body.

Causes of Water-Related Incidents:
Water-related incidents can occur due to various factors:

  1. Swimming Accidents: Accidents can happen during recreational swimming, when someone ventures into deep waters without proper skills or underestimates the strength of currents.
  2. Boating Mishaps: Capsizing, falling overboard, or boat collisions can lead to water-related emergencies.
  3. Unsupervised Children: Inadequate adult supervision of children near water bodies increases the risk of drowning incidents.
  4. Riptides and Undercurrents: Powerful underwater currents, such as riptides, can pull swimmers away from the shore and lead to dangerous situations.
  5. Marine Animal Encounters: Accidental contact with marine animals can result in stings or bites, causing injuries and systemic reactions.

Signs and Symptoms of Water-Related Incidents:
The signs and symptoms vary depending on the specific incident and its severity:

  1. Drowning:
  • Inability to call for help due to water filling the airway.
  • Unconsciousness or unresponsiveness in the water.
  • Gasping for breath or hyperventilation before submersion.
  1. Near-Drowning:
  • Coughing and sputtering after being rescued from the water.
  • Labored breathing and respiratory distress.
  • Confusion or altered mental status due to lack of oxygen.
  1. Marine Animal Stings:
  • Localized pain, swelling, and redness at the site of the sting.
  • Systemic symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or weakness in severe cases.

Paramedic Treatment for Water-Related Incidents:
When responding to water-related incidents, paramedics must act quickly and decisively to ensure the best possible outcomes for the victims. Here’s the step-by-step approach for treating such incidents:

  1. Scene Safety: Ensure safety for both the victim and the rescue team, especially in water rescue situations.
  2. Primary Assessment: Perform a quick primary assessment to determine the patient’s level of responsiveness and breathing status.
  3. Airway Management: If the victim is unresponsive and not breathing, initiate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and provide advanced airway management as necessary.
  4. Breathing Support: Administer oxygen to support respiratory function and relieve hypoxia.
  5. Extrication: Safely remove the patient from the water if still submerged and prevent further injury during the extrication process.
  6. Cardiac Monitoring: Continuously monitor the patient’s heart rate and rhythm during transportation.
  7. Marine Animal Stings: If the victim suffered a marine animal sting, carefully remove any tentacles if present and immerse the affected area in hot water to neutralize toxins.
  8. Stabilization and Transport: Stabilize the patient’s condition and transport them to the nearest appropriate medical facility for further evaluation and treatment.

Water-related incidents can lead to life-threatening emergencies, demanding a quick and skilled response from paramedics. Understanding the pathology, underlying causes, and recognizing the signs and symptoms at different stages are essential for providing timely and effective treatment. As frontline healthcare providers, paramedics play a critical role in rescuing and providing life-saving care to individuals affected by water-related incidents. By applying their knowledge and expertise, paramedics can significantly improve patient outcomes and ensure the best possible chances of survival for those facing these challenging situations.