Articles Tagged with drowning

cruise poolWe have previously reported about drownings on cruise ships. We believe this is a major problem that needs to be addressed. We have handled too many cruise ship drowning cases that we believe could have been prevented.

The most recent tragedy we have learned of is the near drowning of an 8-year-old boy yesterday evening while on board Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas. According to various news outlets, the boy was found unconscious in one of the ship’s swimming pools, after at least 18 minutes without oxygen. Because additional medical attention was required, the ship altered its course and returned to its New Jersey port. Currently, the child is at Staten Island University Hospital on life support.

Maritime attorney Brett Rivkind previously spoke before the United States Congress on cruise ship safety and security. He urged Congress to closely analyze the cruise ship industry, their self-regulation, the laws that apply to them, and the laws that do not apply to them. Without strong safety legislation, passengers have to rely on the cruise ship industry itself to address many of the safety risks that are present on board these ships. Historically, we believe that this is a terrible method to assure safety for passengers, as the cruise ship companies are worried about their image and their profits. Therefore, safety often gets ignored in favor of profits.

lifeguard-station-1529349I have been writing about the necessity to place lifeguards at the swimming pools aboard the cruise ships for some time. Unfortunately, we have seen more drownings occur aboard cruise ships that do not have lifeguards present.

Currently, only Disney employs lifeguards to be present at the swimming pools onboard their cruise ships. The rest of the cruise ships have decided since there is no mandatory requirement to do so, they don’t want to spend the money. I assume they don’t want to spend the money and they don’t want to give up the cabin space a lifeguard would occupy instead of a paying passenger.

I have been handling maritime cases since 1983, and I fail to find any legitimate reason for not having lifeguards present at the swimming pools on the cruise ships. There are many children on cruise ships. The growth of the cruise ship industry has seen mega cruise ships with thousands of passengers onboard. The pools get very busy. Parents are easily distracted. Kids are easily attracted to the pools. A drowning takes very little time to occur. Often times a drowning situation is not immediately apparent to the eye of an inexperienced person, but apparent to a trained lifeguard who can act quickly to prevent the drowning, as occurred in the situation depicted in this video.

deckI was saddened to learn of another tragic incident involving a drowning onboard a cruise ship. This particular drowning involved a 10 year old girl who was with her family onboard a Norwegian cruise ship, the Norwegian Gem, for what was supposed to be a fun filled vacation lasting 7 days. The cruise ship left from New York and was heading to Myrtle Beach at the time of the drowning.

Shipboard medical personnel was unable to resuscitate the 10 year old girl and she died onboard the cruise ship. What a tragic incident for the family! It’s hard to imagine going on a cruise and losing a loved one during the cruise. The exact circumstances surrounding the drowning are unknown at this time. However, there has been a lot of debate about whether lifeguards should be present at the pools on cruise ships. The major cruise ship companies do not utilize lifeguards. Disney Cruise Lines is the only cruise line company known to utilize lifeguards.

Lifeguards are trained not only to respond to a drowning incident but to anticipate a drowning situation about to develop, and take appropriate precautions to avoid a drowning, and avoid having to attempt to resuscitate someone. It is the prevention portion that is critical, and this should mandate that lifeguards be present onboard the cruise ships. There are many water attractions on cruise ships, with thousands of passengers onboard, making it is easy to lose track of a young child.

As a maritime attorney, I have seen way too many cases involving drownings. My cases have not been limited to drownings on cruise ships. I have handled drownings in private pools, drownings in the ocean behind resorts, as well as drownings at private islands owned by cruise ship companies, where passengers are invited to snorkel and swim.

May happens to be national water safety month, and the following are very useful tips that have been provided courtesy of the “simple steps saves lives” program:

1. Staying close, being alert and watching children in and around the pool.

no lifeguardOver the weekend I was sad to hear of yet another drowning in a swimming pool aboard a cruise ship where there were no lifeguards present. This tragic event occurred shortly after the cruise ship Oasis of the Seas sailed on it way for what was planned to be a fun filled vacation. The young 4 year old child somehow wondered off from his mother and found his way to the swimming pool on the deck of the Oasis of the Seas where there were swimming pools and slides and other attractions.

I’ve previously blogged about the need to have lifeguards onboard the cruise ships. It is a crowded environment onboard a cruise ship, with thousands of passengers onboard the ship wandering around, and tons of attractions to participate in, and things to see and observe. A trained lifeguard protecting the pool areas would not cost the cruise line a lot of money, and would prevent disasters like this from occurring. It only takes seconds for a young child to start drowning, and drownings believe it or not, occur mostly when young children are in close proximity to those supervising them. Its often difficult to recognize a drowning immediately if you are not a professional. A professional lifeguard would be diligent in watching out for any problem situations around the pool areas onboard the cruise ships. Disney, after learning a lesson from a disaster onboard one of their cruise ships, started utilizing lifeguards onboard their ships. All the cruise lines should do so. It is a necessity, and should be required of the cruise line industry.

Just like it was necessary to implement legislation to require cruise lines to report crimes onboard their ships, because it was not enough to rely on the voluntary reporting that existed for years, we cannot rely on cruise line voluntarily implementing necessary safety measures onboard their cruise ships. Although there will be financial costs to the cruise lines for implementing a sufficient number of lifeguards onboard the cruise ships, children are a precious commodity and lives need to get saved, no matter what the costs!

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