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Resuscitation of Drowning Victims

James O. Elam, M.D.; Arne M. Ruben, M.D.; David G. Greene, M.D.
JAMA. 1960;174(1):13-16. doi:10.1001/jama.1960.03030010015003.
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Twenty-one successful users of oral resuscitation for victims of asphyxia were questioned to evaluate the acceptability and effectiveness of the method and the details of technique in the hands of laymen in the field. Vomiting and trismus occurred in 16 and 13 cases, respectively, and three patients had convulsions. Pallor or cyanosis was uniformly noted. Two patients, though successfully resuscitated temporarily, died subsequently. The six rescuers who were unhappy about the experience in retrospect rescued victims who either vomited or were drowned in sewage. Ten rescuers were not upset by the experience in retrospect, even though their patients vomited. The thumb-in-the-mouth technique, which had been extensively promoted in the area during the time of this survey, was attempted in only a few instances and was discontinued because the thumb was bitten in some cases.


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