Life Guard Rescues at Seattle Parks’ lake beaches




Allen, John G.
Johnson, Leigh
Loewen, Ashlee
Martin, Ashley
Johnson, Valerie
Camp, Kathlene E.
Toale, Ashley
Rice, Margarita


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Purpose (a): This purpose of this project is to conduct an exploratory statistical analysis of Water Rescue/Assist Reports for nine fresh water beaches in King County, Washington, for the period 2008 to 2012. The nine beaches covered by the Water Rescue/Assist Report are East Greenlake Beach, Madison Beach, Madrona Beach, Magnuson Beach, Matthews Beach, Mount Baker Beach, Pritchard Beach, Seward Beach, and West Greenlake Beach. The project alternate hypothesis is: By describing and comparing data compiled from the Water Rescue/Assist Reports, public health leaders can make better decisions regarding water safety and can use the information for additional study. Methods (b): A total of 508 Water Rescue/Assist Reports reviewed for this analysis. The data from the reports were entered into and analyzed in Microsoft Excel. We reviewed lifeguard rescue records that collected data on: incident date and time of day; victim gender and age; parent availability during rescues for victims under age 18; victim symptoms after rescue; possible neck/back injuries; disposition to hospital; cause of incident; water depth; water temperature; park rules disobeyed; number of active and passive patrons present at time of rescue. The analysis included: age and gender based descriptive statistics; the ratio of lifeguards to patrons; water temperature correlated with rescue frequency; odds ratios and relative risks based on gender and age and the presence of a parent at the time of rescue. We searched records of the King County Medical Examiners deaths to identify drowning deaths occurring in Seattle Parks. Double entry was completed for each report to maximize data reliability. A data dictionary was developed as a guide for entering data and a blank Water Rescue/Assist Reports and was used as a reference to increase the speed of entering data.The analysis uses coded data to make data inferences using primarily descriptive statistics. Evaluations of non-coded or non-standardized report entries (such as water depth and number of guards on duty) was limited the “Other” category under “Accidents possible causes” in order to determine any possible trends based on information rescuers entered into the form. Results (c): Results: 508 rescues were completely recorded; an average of 11/park/year. Rescues steadily increased from beach opening at 11 AM and peaked at 5-7 PM when beaches closed. Most (65%) involved males; males outnumbered females between the ages of 7-50 years (RR=3.1, p5-10 feet deep; (29%) occurred in waters >10-15 feet deep.Most (65%) involved males; males outnumbered females between the ages of 7-50 years (RR=3.1, p<.05). Most (77%) rescues involved those 7-26 years of age; 55% were < 18 years. The greatest number of rescues involved those 7-10 years. Parents were on site for 90% of children <10 years of age. The most commonly listed causes were “overestimated ability”, “tired”, “waves”, and ”nonswimmer”. Drugs/alcohol were listed in 5% (28/503) of rescues. Half of rescues (51%, 236/ 462) rescues occurred in waters >5-10 feet deep; (29%) occurred in waters >10-15 feet deep. Conclusions (d): This exploratory analysis provides a snapshot of the data from the Water Rescue / Assist Reports filed from 2008-12. The data underscores some key points to be considered, including: most rescued victims were male; rescue frequency positively correlated with increasing levels of parental absence; swimmer overconfidence in their swimming abilities was the most common cause for rescues; more than 70% of rescues occurred in water depth exceeding 5 feet; the relative risk of rescues was twice what is was when there were fewer swimmers in the water as compared to more swimmers in the water. Public health leaders and others can use the information from these reports to better understand the factors involved with rescues and to conduct further study and develop effective policy.