AFAC19 powered by INTERSCHUTZ | 27-30 August 2019 | Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre | #AFAC19

Session information

16:30 - 17:00

Beyond Drowning

Background Drowning holds the focus of the research and emergency services communities due to the severe, accidental and preventable nature of the incidents. It is presumed that drowning deaths make up the bulk of aquatic fatalities, however in developed countries where drowning rate per capita is relatively low compared to some developing countries, a significant proportion of aquatic fatalities are non-drowning related. Non-drowning related aquatic fatalities include medical incidents, injuries, attacks by wildlife, and self-harm. From a rescue perspective, the response to drowning and non-drowning aquatic events is similar but research on these incidents is limited. Removing these incidents from the drowning fatality statistics may severely underestimate the number of fatal incidents lifesavers and emergency services respond to. Aim The aim of this study is to assess the frequency and nature of non-drowning aquatic fatalities compared to drowning fatalities and provide a holistic overview of all fatalities in the Australian coastal environment. Methods & Results Using coronial data, the SurfGuard Incident Report Database (IRD) and media articles we compiled a dataset of non-drowning coastal fatalities which we compared to Surf Life Saving Australia’s National Coastal Drowning Database. Between 2004 and 2018, 40-45% of all fatalities on the Australian coast were not related to drowning. The analysis and comparison to coastal drowning fatalities is currently underway. We will discuss demographics, timing and causal factors of these incidents including implications for lifesaving services and community.