Prevention | Rescue | Resuscitation – The influence of New Zealand lifeguarding practice on global drowning prevention

Webber, Jonathon Brian (2020) Prevention | Rescue | Resuscitation – The influence of New Zealand lifeguarding practice on global drowning prevention. [Doctorate by Public Works]

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Drowning is a serious public health issue and leading cause of unintentional injury mortality worldwide. Of the 320,000 deaths annually, most occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Not all drowning is fatal, but some survivors suffer long-term or permanent disability. Prompt rescue and resuscitation offers patients the best chance of survival. Prevention is the most important step in the Drowning Chain of Survival, and with drowning an ever-present risk at beaches and other aquatic locations, lifeguards play a critical role in this regard.

The aim of this context statement is to critically review a series of public works in the field of drowning prevention, rescue, and resuscitation. The works originate from the author’s career as a New Zealand-based lifeguard, researcher, and health professional. Along with exploring their impact on the sector, the statement will outline the author’s role in producing the works, professional development, autoethnography as it relates to work-based learning, reflection on practice, future application, and recommendations for other practitioners in the field.

Key actions from reflecting on practice include validating selected public works to ensure they are evidence-based, bridging the know-do gap, seeking answers to new and existing research questions, using work-based learning in the design of prospective studies, and promoting diversity with the sector. Significant achievements were the establishment of Pakistan Life Saving (PALS), foundation of the International Drowning Researchers’ Alliance (IDRA), and the creation of drowning prevention models that have received high-level endorsement.

Conclusions are that work-based research contributes to the body of knowledge within the industry and that New Zealand lifeguarding practice has had a significant impact on global drowning prevention. There is no standardised evidence evaluation framework or system for grading practice guidelines in lifeguarding. It is recommended, therefore, that the profession embarks on creating one. To further assist in translating evidence into practice, practitioners who work across academia and operationally should be engaged at all levels of the sector.

Autoethnography, as a method of self-reflection, has not been widely used in lifeguarding. It can be employed to increase the body of knowledge, especially in relation to non-technical skills and organisational culture. A suggested application is in the study of human factors, for which there is a lack of information and educational resources. Succession planning within the sector is vital. One way to achieve this is for new researchers to join or align themselves with a water safety organisation and find an experienced practitioner to mentor them.

Attendance at the World Conference on Drowning Prevention and other similar events is advised to foster interest in a specialty subject area and help establish professional networks. This may lead to opportunities for collaboration on research projects or multicentre studies. Emerging leaders and delegates from LMICs should be encouraged and financially supported to attend these events. Lastly, future public works should always be developed with the end-user in mind, consider the applicability in LMICs, and be open-access wherever possible.

Item Type: Doctorate by Public Works
Research Areas: A. > Work and Learning Research Centre
B. > Theses
Item ID: 31291
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2021 14:53
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 18:27

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