Can surf-lifeguards perform a quality cardiopulmonary resuscitation sailing on a lifeboat? A quasi-experimental study

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Drowning is a high-priority public health problem around the world. The European Resuscitation Council Guidelines for Resuscitation 2015 put special emphasis on special environments like open waters. Stopping the drowning process as soon as possible and starting an early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) improve survival. Inflatable rescue boats (IRBs) are used around the world in the water rescue of drowning victims. Our objective was to test the quality of CPR performed by surf-lifeguards while sailing on an IRB.


A quasi-experimental simulation trial was conducted in Tenerife (Canary Islands—Spain) on September 2015. Ten surf-lifeguards were asked to perform a 2 min CPR on manikins in four different scenarios: (1) onshore, (2) on adrift boat, (3) on a boat sailing at 5 knots and (4) on a boat sailing at 10 knots. CPR was performed individually and was measured by means of CPRmeter (Laerdal, Norway) located on the standard manikin. Repeated measures analysis of variance was used in order to analyse the differences between scenarios.


The composite of all CPR variables was over 84% in all conditions, but it was lower when CPR was performed on board: onshore (96.49±3.58%) versus adrift (91.80±3.56, p=0.04), sailing at 5 knots (88.65±5.54, p=0.03) and sailing at 10 knots (84.74±5.56, p=0.001).


Surf-lifeguards are able to deliver good-quality CPR even on a moving IRB, but their performance is lower than onshore. This fact should be considered in real cases to balance the risk and benefits of CPR on board.

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