At least 10 people die from drowning every day in the United States alone, so it’s not unlikely that you’ll stumble upon someone drowning at some point, especially when you’re surfing.
Every minute counts when someone’s on the water, so you should act fast and do these things if you’re on the scene:
Find someone who can help you.
If you’re already on the water, call the attention of other surfers or swimmers in the area to help you rescue that person. Never attempt a solo rescue if you’re not trained because it could be more dangerous for you.
Call the lifeguards.
If you’re near the shore, call the lifeguards immediately or ask someone to get help if you’re on the water. Remember that each minute could lead to the death of that person, so you must act quickly and make sure that lifeguards or medics are on their way.
Pull the person out of the water.
If there are no lifeguards nearby, work with other surfers to pull that person out of the water, especially if you noticed that he’s been there for a few minutes. If the victim is unconscious, you must get to the land and perform CPR right away.
The brain begins to die after 7 minutes without oxygen, so performing CPR is a critical part of a victim’s survival. This is also why surfers need to be trained in basic CPR or lifesaving skills to be able to help others in emergencies where medical help is still on the way.
Check the victim’s pulse and if there’s no spontaneous breathing or pulse, begin resuscitation right away. Place the victim on a flat surface and keep the neck and head still in case of any neck or spinal injuries.
While you’re doing all of this, make sure that the medics are notified, so they can take over the scene and provide better medical treatment to the victim.
As long as you do your best to save someone’s life, you can give yourself a pat on the back no matter the outcome.