Background SwimSafe, a basic swimming and safer rescue curriculum, has been taught to large numbers of Bangladeshi children since 2006. This study examines the frequency and characteristics of rescues reported by children who graduated from SwimSafe and compares them with age-matched and sex-matched children who did not participate in SwimSafe.
Methods Interviews were conducted during the swimming season in Raiganj, Bangladesh. Data were collected from 3890 SwimSafe graduates aged 6–14. Two age-matched and sex-matched controls were selected; one who had learned to swim naturally, the other who had not learned to swim.
Results 188 rescues were reported by the three groups. The 12–14-year age groups reported the highest monthly rate of rescues (SwimSafe 10.5/100 000 (95% CI 3.4 to 24.5), natural swimmers 8.5/100 000 (95% CI 2.2 to 21.2)) and annual rate of rescue reported (SwimSafe 25.4/100 000 (95% CI 13.2 to 43.9), natural swimmers 35.4/100 000 (20.8 to 56.2)). Reported rescue numbers among both swimming groups was similar. Mean victim age was 4.1 years and 92.5% were under 7 years. All victims were younger than their rescuer (mean 5.9 years less). Most rescues (73.7%) took place in ponds or ditches with most (86.6%) within 10 m of the bank. Most victims had entered the water to bathe (53.8%). A large majority of reported rescues (90.9%) were conducted with the rescuer in the water, half requiring the rescuer to swim.
Conclusions Children report frequent drowning rescues of younger children in rural Bangladesh. Most reported are contact rescues with the rescuer in the water. Formal training for in-water rescue techniques may be needed to reduce the risk to the child rescuer.
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