Removing a casualty from water

The quick assessment and rescue of a casualty who is in difficulty in water provides them with the best chance of survival. But while it is important to get a casualty to the edge quickly and safely, the methods used to remove them can often cause time delays and sometimes further injuries to the casualty and/or the rescuer if not performed correctly.

In the heat of the moment and the panic to extract a person who has drowned, injuries can often be caused due to quick pulling on the casualty's arms, or by the rescuer tripping and injuring them self.

image of lifeguard with casualty in the water while another lifeguard kneels next to the pool placing a spineboard in the waterIn many Aquatic Safety Courses, techniques such as Drag, Shoulder Carry, Piggy Back and Stirrup Lift can be effective for conscious casualties when in environments such as rivers, lakes, ocean or pools, but when dealing with unconscious casualties the assisted lift is more effective but not necessarily the most efficient in a swimming pool environment.

Most public pools, especially in Western Australia, have a spine board for the removal of casualties who have a suspected spinal injury in water. While lifeguards are trained to use these for spinal injuries they are also trained to use them for quick extraction of casualties with improved efficiency and effectiveness than the Assisted (Tea Bag) Lift.

By placing the board in a vertical position against the pool wall, the casualty can be placed on the spine board either facing forward or on their back and can be easily pulled from the water in a matter of seconds. Use of the board provides less manual handling issues for the rescuer, and increases the safety to the casualty who may be heavy or difficult to remove from the water.

Due to its simplicity, the removal of a casualty using a spine board in the pool environment is something that can be easily replicated with minimal training.

This video below demonstrates the removal of a casualty from the deep end of a pool in a forward facing position. This technique can be performed with only 2 rescuers.


Lifeguards working at a swimming pool

Pool Lifeguard

Learn how to become a Pool Lifeguard. You can start a career or a summer job.

Read more button

Four young persons at the swimming pool with lifesaving equipment

Bronze Medallion

Learn how to become a qualified lifesaver. This training will enhance your personal survival skills while providing you with the knowledge and skills to develop the level of judgement, technique and physical ability required to safely carry out water rescues.

Click here to read more