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Research "Flinging the Squaler" Lifeline Rescues for Drowning Prevention




In Australia, 86 “rescuers” have drowned over 15 years (1992–2007). Many victims

have needlessly drowned simply because of bystander unfamiliarity with the simple

skill of throwing a lifeline or lifebuoy. The basic paradigm of aquatic lifesaving is to

affect a rescue, without placing oneself at risk. Twenty-five fit, untrained adults were

recruited to assess their lifeline throwing abilities. Results from 190 competitors as

participants in the Line Throw events at the National Australian Pool Lifesaving

Competition 2009 were analyzed for speed, efficacy, and accuracy. It takes a medium

time of 35 s for an untrained bystander to throw a lifeline. Only 20% can throw a line

within 2 m of the target at a first attempt. In the heat of the moment, 20% do not

secure the end of the flung rope. Trained children can affect a 10 m accurate throw and

pull a potential victim to safety with a medium elapsed time of 23 s. The Australian

national record for trained lifesavers (adult, 12 meter), is 10.08 s—world record 9.06

s. This simple lifesaving technique, with training in improvisation (e.g., garden

hoses), will undoubtedly save lives.

Authors: John H. Pearn, Richard C. Franklin

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