Cowabunga Bay fined for lifeguard numbers after near drowning

Just days after a 5-year-old boy almost drowned at Cowabunga Bay in May, the Southern Nevada Health District pointed out the Henderson theme park for failing to fulfill security requirements, consisting of not having enough lifeguards on duty.

Files obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal show the health district got a grievance regarding Cowabunga Bay’s lifeguard protection the day after the Might 27 near-drowning.

On May 28, the district investigated the grievance and discovered multiple security offenses.

The health district report dated May 29 and signed by Cowabunga Bay General Manager Shane Huish reveals Cowabunga Bay likewise did not have appropriate water safety signage, consisting of emergency situation procedure indications and “No Diving” indications as needed by state law.

But regulatory problems didn’t drop in Might. The health district returned June 9 for a regularly scheduled yearly inspection, discovering only eight of the required 17 lifeguards working.

The health district struck Cowabunga Bay with a $118 fine, cautioned that “failure to keep appropriate protection could result in closure with charges,” and offered Cowabunga Bay Thirty Days to fix the violations.

Huish and the Cowabunga Bay public relations workplace decreased comment for this post. But in a statement launched the day of the near-drowning, Huish praised lifeguard response.

“I am exceptionally pleased with our personnel and how rapidly they responded to the scenario,” Huish stated. “Right now our issue is with the health and health of those involved.”


Cowabunga Bay’s lifeguards are trained by the National Aquatic Security Co., a Houston-based company that uses an in-water lifesaving technique frequently referred to as the Heimlich maneuver.

A minimum of another state has actually needed NASCO to remove the Heimlich maneuver, likewise known as abdominal drives, from its training manuals.

There’s no indicator that’s occurred in Nevada.

In a letter addressed to John Hunsucker, the president of NASCO, the State of New Jersey Department of Health said a few of the company’s training strategies– particularly the “in-water-intervention method,” which defines using abdominal thrusts on a subconscious drowning victim– were just recently discovered to be scientifically ungrounded.

The New Jersey health department withdrew acknowledgment of NASCO’s lifeguard training course till it provided a “NASCO New Jersey Textbook” without the method, according to the letter.

“After they offered a NJ particular Lifeguard Training Handbook, we restored acknowledgment of their accreditation for NJ lifeguards,” Timothy Smith, acting program supervisor for the New Jersey Department of Health, wrote in an email.

But NASCO’s primary “Lifeguard Book,” revised in 2014 and shown on its website, still consists of the in-water-intervention method.

There’s no sign in public records that the Heimlich maneuver was utilized the day the 5-year-old boy almost drowned.

A Henderson cops report form shows lifeguards utilized CPR to save his life.

The kid was found in the deep end of the wave pool, according to the cops report. The lifeguard initially screamed to a close-by lady, who “looked down at the submerged juvenile in shock.”

The lifeguard “sounded his whistle and dove in to contact the juvenile,” and pull him to safety. CPR was administered on an upper deck until paramedics arrived.

The kid was required to St. Rose Dominican Hospital– Siena Campus.

It’s unclear how long the kid was under water or what his current condition is. He has actually not been publicly recognized.


NASCO has actually declined to comment however a post on its site, “An Open Letter to Our Customers, The Public and The Press” specifies that the business is being assaulted over its techniques “by others whose technology and systems lag significantly behind ours …”

A lifeguard supervisor at Cowabunga Bay, who existed throughout the near drowning on May 27 but did not want to be named in this story, told the Review-Journal that part of her training involves finding out the best ways to utilize abdominal drives on both alert and subconscious drowning victims.

All Las Vegas city swimming pools have Red Cross accredited lifeguards, according to a representative.

Wet ‘n’ Wild Director of Operations Rick Bulhumeur stated the theme park’s lifeguards are trained by Jeff Ellis & & Associates, a company that carries out 3 detailed unannounced, undercover audits throughout the summer. He stated he does not believe using abdominal embed the water is required.

Both the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association not recommend using the stomach thrusts as a way to rescue a drowning victim, stating research has disproven its usefulness.

The 2010 American Heart Association guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency situation Cardiovascular Care, which are upgraded every five years, states that using abdominal thrusts to get rid of water from the breathing passages is thought about “unneeded and potentially hazardous.”

Specialists instead recommend using CPR, a combination of chest compressions and rescue breaths.

“Our science is grounded on CPR and the fact that the Heimlich maneuver is apparently hazardous,” said Jennifer Merback, a representative for the American Heart Association Las Vegas Division. “We never ever want to put somebody’s life in danger.”

Merback stated the American Heart Association has actually discouraged using abdominal drives as the primary step to resuscitate submersion victims since as early as 2000.

“(That year) is when we really clarified that it’s not evidence-based,” she said. “Everything is focused on the science and the research for it to be backed by the AHA.”

Those few minutes between when the lifeguards blow their whistle and arrival of paramedics are essential, stated American Red Cross Aquatic Security Expert Max Goshert. Using the Heimlich maneuver on a drowning victim is not in the Red Cross’ emergency treatment.

“If you pulled somebody from the water, it would not provide any aid,” Goshert said. “The thing that’s killing you when you’re drowning is the absence of oxygen, not the water in your lungs.”

Dr. Kreg Burnette, a pediatrics emergency medical professional at the youngsters’s medical facility of Nevada’s University Medical Center stated the major goal to assist a drowning victim is “to get them breathing once again.”

“You wish to get air into the lungs,” he said. “The Heimlich maneuver isn’t truly going to do that. The entire idea of the Heimlich is to enhance pressure to aid push objects, not liquids, from the air passages or esophagus. It will not empty water out of the lungs.”

Carrying out the Heimlich on a drowning victim could complicate things further, Burnette said.

“If you induce someone to throw up, it will not influence anything that has actually decreased to the lungs,” he stated. “If they are breathing or gasping for air, they can take that vomit into their lungs, which could make it even worse.”

According to Nevada Administrative Code 444.274, a lifeguard must have “sufficiently completed a Red Cross Advanced Lifesaving Course or the equivalent.”

Jeremy Harper, the ecological health supervisor for the aquatic health program at the health district, stated the health district “does not manage the material of the (lifeguard) course.”

Contact Review-Journal author Michelle Iracheta at 702-387-5205. Follow @cephira on Twitter.

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