Pediatric Drowning: A Standard Operating Procedure to Aid the Prehospital Management of Pediatric Cardiac Arrest Resulting From Submersion

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2020 Mar;36(3):143-146. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000001169.


Objectives: Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in children. Resuscitating a child following submersion is a high-pressure situation, and standard operating procedures can reduce error. Currently, the Resuscitation Council UK guidance does not include a standard operating procedure on pediatric drowning. The objective of this project was to design a standard operating procedure to improve outcomes of drowned children.

Methods: A literature review on the management of pediatric drowning was conducted. Relevant publications were used to develop a standard operating procedure for management of pediatric drowning.

Results: A concise standard operating procedure was developed for resuscitation following pediatric submersion. Specific recommendations include the following: the Heimlich maneuver should not be used in this context; however, prolonged resuscitation and therapeutic hypothermia are recommended.

Conclusions: This standard operating procedure is a potentially useful adjunct to the Resuscitation Council UK guidance and should be considered for incorporation into its next iteration.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drowning
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Female
  • Heart Arrest / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia, Induced
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Near Drowning / therapy*
  • Resuscitation / methods*