Royal Life Saving Society of Australia national education and training adviser Shayne Baker.
Royal Life Saving Society of Australia national education and training adviser Shayne Baker.

Save lives and learn CPR

THIS summer - with its extreme temperatures, bushfires, storms and seemingly harmless water-based pursuits - brings with it the confronting question of what you would do if you were faced with a medical emergency.

Resuscitation efforts won't always result in the patient's survival but, according to Toowoomba's Shayne Baker OAM, they do give that person a fighting chance.

Shayne is national education and training adviser and a Life Member of the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia, an International Life Saving Rescue Commission member, Downs Little Lifeguards president, a Masters Swim Club member and active Gold Coast surf lifesaver.

He was also one of four local residents inducted into the Australian Resuscitation Club late last year.

He aided senior lifeguard Toni Rice in the rescue of a young Down syndrome man at Milne Bay Aquatic Centre, and Toowoomba Masters Swim Club members Marcus Ford and Lionel Scotney resuscitated a fellow club member who suffered a medical episode at Glennie Aquatic Centre.

Shayne said although the two incidents occurred at local pools, it was important to realise that resuscitation skills could be needed anytime, anywhere.

And he is speaking from experience.

Over recent years he has also been involved in unsuccessful attempts to resuscitate a beachgoer and successfully resuscitating a neighbouring passenger on a plane.

For Seniors, he said, it was important to learn resuscitation to help family and friends (or indeed strangers) in the case of accident or medical emergency.

This was particularly given many are taking on a much larger role in caring for grandchildren, and the more active lifestyle Seniors are leading in general.

According to statistics, roughly one-third of the people you are likely to help will be loved ones, one-third people you know, and one third workmates, with a small percentage being strangers.

"Any attempt at CPR is better than none," Shayne said, adding that techniques had been simplified in recent years.

Regardless of the patient's age, resuscitation now involves 30 compressions to every 2 breaths, the only differences being the depth of the compressions and therefore whether fingers or the whole hand are used.

Shayne said many parents and grandparents in inland areas such as Toowoomba believed kids didn't need swimming lessons because they weren't near the beach.

However, it was still just as vital because so much of Australian lifestyle centred around the outdoors and interaction with water, including camping, fishing, kayaking, bushwalking and pool activities.

For the same reason, he said, it was important for immigrants - regardless of age - to learn water safety skills as soon as possible.

He said it was a common misconception that most drownings occurred at the beach, because such incidents gained more media coverage due to beaches being more public areas.

However, he said most occurred in inland waterways - rivers, dams, creeks and lakes - with the smooth surfaces providing a false sense of security, potentially hiding currents, undertows and submerged objects.

Royal Life Saving Australia research shows 1087 people drowned in Australian rivers, creeks and streams in the 15 years to June 30, 2018, with hundreds more hospitalised, many with a permanent disability.

Add to this the incidence of pool drowning - one of the leading causes of death in children 0-4 years of age - and Shayne said, it was vital that everyone who lived in Australia knew the dangers associated with water and how to swim, and that as many as possible learnt resuscitation skills.

Almost 500 children aged 0-4 years drowned in Australia in the 15 years to June 30, 2018 - 59% in backyard pools with hundreds more admitted to hospital.

To find out more about how you or your group can organise resuscitation training, call Shayne on 0411 073 428, email or go to

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