Courtesy of International Swimming Hall of Fame, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The International Swimming Hall of Fame hosted a successful conference on Near-Death Experiences while Drowning on August 18th in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Organizer Dr. Stathis Avramidis reported, “The conference raised awareness about the near-death experiences phenomenon in relation to drowning. Swimming teachers, lifeguards, head lifeguards and nurses attended the event that left everyone satisfied. In addition to the oral presentations, posters were presented about Near-Death Experiences (NDE), drowning, historical perspective, lifesaving sport and canoeing safety by scholars and aquatic professionals from the USA, Greece, Ireland and Norway.

The presentations included:

* Bruce Wigo of the International Swimming Hall of Fame talked about the importance of hosting a conference on drowning-related NDEs making reference to the non-fatal drowning of his son.

* Audrey Dalton recounted her NDE after a drowning episode at the age of 5 and the aftereffects on her life.

* Professor Janice Miner Holden, Ed.D., LPC-S, NCC, ACMHP (Professor of Counseling and Chair of the Department of Counseling and Higher Education, University of North Texas) presented an overview of 40 years of research on NDEs.

* Stathis Avramidis, Ph.D. and Officer of the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Seasonal Instructor of Applied Lifeguarding and Lifesaving Sport at the University of Athens, and the Lifesaving Sport Director, Hellenic Federation of Underwater Activity, talked about the NDE Mnemonic, the NDE Protocol and the footprints of NDEs in history, Hollywood and reality.

* John Spannuth, CEO of the United States Water Fitness Association, underlined the importance of providing swimming and lifeguard lessons.

The conference yielded the following conclusions:

1. Lifeguards and other emergency or medical professionals including nurses, doctors, police, and fire department personnel should talk to their victims because even when victims are unconscious or their heart is not beating, they may be able to hear.

2. About 20% of those that survived a close brush with death (e.g. heart attack, spinal injury, drowning or any other cause of death) had an NDE. Lifeguards and other health professionals can use the NDE acronym protocol, presented at the conference, to ensure that they respond helpful, and not harmfully, to drowning survivors who had an NDE.

3. Lifeguard organizations should include in their training an awareness of drowning NDEs to arm their professionals to work effectively with near-death experiencers.

The Rescue Protocol for Drowning Survivors with Possible Near-Death Experience provides further guidance for professionals,” reiterated Dr. Avramidis. “Drowning and water-based causes of death can be prevented with appropriate education. The International Swimming Hall of Fame may play an essential role in promoting water safety by offering a related exhibition and acting as a connector of the various organizations that serve aquatic safety, lifesaving and lifeguarding across the world.”

To download a free publications of the Abstracts, the Rescue Protocol, and the book Near-Death Experiences while Drowning, visit here.

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