8 Jan 2017

Study to look at surf lifesavers' skills

10:06 am on 8 January 2017

Surf lifesavers at northern beaches are having their resuscitation skills put to the test this summer as part of ground-breaking research.

Surf lifesaving flags out at the beach.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

An Auckland University honorary lecturer, Jonathan Webber, said the aim was to assess how effective volunteer surf lifesavers between Raglan and the Far North were at resuscitating children.

It's hoped at least 250 people will take part in the study.

Mr Webber said it was the first study to look at lifeguards' knowledge and skills relating to children and there was a lot of interest from overseas.

"Certainly what we do in the drowning resuscitation and aquatic rescue side of things is world-leading.

"There are not many decisions that are made on the international front pertaining to life saving or drowning resuscitation that don't have some New Zealand influence."

Mr Webber said the study - being done by two medical students - would test the difference between perceived and actual abilities and some of the attitudes to child CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

Mr Webber said generally people were anxious about CPR and that only got worse when children were involved.

"Any attempt to resuscitate this person does is going to be better than none at all.

"And certainly what we know in drowning, is that it's what's done on scene, it's the basic CPR that a first responder, a lifeguard, a parent can provide that's ultimately going to determine whether this person survives the drowning episode."

Mr Webber said the study's findings would be used to improve the training of lifeguards and others called to emergency scenes.

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