Drowning... The Silent Killer of Children: Should the Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue Department Take a Proactive Approach in the Development of a Preventive Program?

This page may contain links to non-U.S. government websites. What this means to you »

By Jo-Ann Lorber

The problem is that children, ages five and under are drowning or are experiencing near-drowning in Fort Lauderdale, due to the high accessibility of water.

The purpose of this applied research project (ARP) was to determine what strategies may be employed to reduce or prevent pediatric drowning or near-drowning.

In conducting this research, the author utilized the descriptive methodology that identified the following questions:

  1. What have other fire-rescue agencies done to reduce or prevent the possibility of children drowning in their community?
  2. What actions or programs may be employed to reduce the number of child drowning or near-drowning incidents in the City of Fort Lauderdale?
  3. How can the Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue Department (FTLFR) partner with key politicians and community leaders in the development of a workable drowning prevention program?
  4. What resources would be needed to implement a drowning prevention program?

The procedures used to complete this ARP consisted of a comprehensive literature review utilizing books, magazines, newspaper articles, and journal articles. In addition, a survey was sent to the Florida Fire Chiefs' Association via the internet to post to members on their website. Lastly, interviews were conducted via telephone with individuals holding key positions within the Peoria, Arizona Fire Department and the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Palm Beach County. The results of this analysis established that there are many actions or programs out there to prevent drowning or near-drowning incidents in children, but it is best to partner with a drowning prevention coalition to assist in funding, materials, and marketing.

Recommendations made were to obtain internal support from the city manager, fire chief, senior staff chief officers, and rank and file department members to "buy in" to an effective development of a drowning prevention program. Other recommendations included: fostering coalitions and networks and promoting community education.