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VOL. 127 | NO. 134 | Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Le Bonheur Offers CPR Training in Effort to Prevent Drownings

By Aisling Maki

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About 40 children who drown or almost drown in pools, ponds or other bodies of water each year are admitted to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, 50 N. Dunlap St.

Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital is teaming up with Make A Splash Mid-South and child safety organization Safe Kids Mid-South to offer free CPR sessions. (Daily News File Photo: Lance Murphey)

The hospital this summer is hoping to train about 300 caregivers with the skills and knowledge to perform life-saving CPR.

Le Bonheur is teaming up with Make A Splash Mid-South, a community volunteer initiative designed to teach more children how to swim, and child safety organization Safe Kids Mid-South to offer free CPR training sessions to the public.

Three free sessions will be held Aug. 4 in Rash Hall at Christ United Methodist Church, 4488 Poplar Ave. The one-hour sessions will be offered at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Certified CPR instructors from local agencies including the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and the Memphis and Bartlett fire departments will lead the training.

“As the swimming pools open for the summer, we want to remind parents how important it is to do a few simple things to protect children,” said Susan Helms, director of injury prevention and Safe Kids Mid-South, which is housed at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. “The first is to learn CPR. It can truly save a life. The second is to designate a water watcher. Make sure someone always has their eyes on the children.”

Make a Splash Mid-South, also based at Le Bonheur, was formed in June 2008 following the deaths of two Memphis teens, both whom drowned in swimming pools.

The community coalition focuses on expanding awareness about the importance of water safety, providing swim lessons and swim team scholarships for economically disadvantaged children, and promoting minority participation in swimming in Memphis and surrounding communities.

Make a Splash Mid-South has guided its efforts based on findings from a University of Memphis research study, which claims to be the first study on minority children and swimming. Commissioned by USA Swimming, the study found that almost 60 percent of African-American and Hispanic children don’t know how to swim and are three times more likely to drown than white children.

Make a Splash Mid-South next month will also host a national diversity swim weekend at the University of Memphis called the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute National Diversity in Swim Weekend.

According to national statistics on drowning from Safe Kids USA, the parent organization of Safe Kids Mid-South, on average, 3,600 injuries occur annually to children due to a near-drowning incident.

The organization says each year, more than 830 children ages 14 and under die as a result of unintentional drowning.

Home swimming pools are the most common site for a drowning to occur for a child between the ages of 1 and 4.

Studies show a parent or caregiver claimed to be supervising the child in nearly nine out of 10 child drowning-related deaths, which increase 89 percent between May and August.

For more information about the upcoming training sessions, e-mail CPR@makeasplashmidsouth.org or call 287-5992.

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