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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

Mortality among drowning rescuers in China, 2013: a review of 225 rescue incidents from the press

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Yinchao Zhu, Xia Jiang, Hui Li, Fudong Li, Jieping Chen
Wichtige Hinweise
Yinchao Zhu and Xia Jiang contributed equally to this work.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

ZYC was responsible for study protocol design and statistical analysis. ZYC, LH, LFD and CJP were in charge of searching for relevant reports and extracting information. LFD and CJP assisted in data cleaning. ZYC and JX drafted the manuscript. All authors reviewed drafts of the manuscript and consented to the submitted version. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Authors’ information

Yinchao Zhu and Xia Jiang share first-authorship.



Drowning is common worldwide. Rescue efforts attempted by untrained bystanders often lead to the death of the primary drowning victim (PDV), the rescuer or both. Our study aimed to inform prevention by identifying risk factors in rescuer drowning.


Data on drowning rescue incidents reported online in mainland China, 2013, were reviewed. Information on the drowning incidents, PDVs and rescuers were retrieved for analysis.


A total of 225 rescue incidents were identified, of which 14 were victim-rescuer drowning incidents (VRDIs) (6.2 %). A person-to-person rescue by swimming to PDVs was the most commonly used method (58.9 %). Resuscitation was given immediately to 35.5 % of PDVs after rescue. The mortality rate of the rescuers (13.3 %) was similar to that of the PDVs (11.5 %) (χ2 = 0.5, p =0.49). Being an adult (OR = 0.2, 95 % CI: 0.1–0.5) and other than the first rescuer (OR = 0.4, 95 % CI: 0.2–0.9) decreased the risk of rescuers drowning.


Most of the currently employed life-saving methods are dangerous and even potentially life threatening. The idea of “rescuers’ safety first” should be embraced, especially with teenage and child rescuers, who should never be encouraged to rescue others without first guaranteeing their own safety. Promotion of basic rescue skills should be implemented in the general public.
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