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Friday, July 25, 2014 | Last updated: 2:42pm

UA students collaborate with LeadLocal and TMC to prevent drowning incidents in Arizona



While most students took a break from school in May, three UA students spent their summer doing research to prevent future drowning incidents in Arizona.

UA students collaborated with LeadLocal and Tucson Medical Center to research the effectiveness of current drowning prevention methods. TMC plans to present the students’ research for future grant proposals in order to implement more effective strategies.

Arizona is ranked second nationally in number of water related incidents, and Pima County saw five children drownings in 2011, according to the students’ reports.

TMC currently promotes a water safety campaign called “Vest It Up!,” which targets parents and children, encouraging the use of life vests in pools. Brooke McDonald, co-founder of LeadLocal, said the students’ research findings aimed to look beyond current drowning prevention methods and offer a broader perspective.

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By Rebecca Marie Sasnett / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Rebecca Marie Sasnett / The Daily Wildcat Jennifer Tomlinson, junior nursing student, takes photos at the UA Rec Center Pool Thursday Sept. 5, 2013. Tomlinson is one of four UA students who recieved an internship with a drowning prevention program.

“That’s really what TMC was looking for,” McDonald said. “They wanted to know best practices … what other states, what other countries … are preventing drownings. We all know that some of these issues are preventable.”

After looking at local statistics, students turned to national and global data to find out how to better structure future programs at TMC.

In Portugal, swimming and CPR lessons are offered to students in schools for free, according to the students’ research. Drowning prevention programs in Washington have taken multiple approaches on the issue, including social media advocacy and offering water recreation programs to children with special needs.

“We wanted to explore new ideas, and most of these global ideas are ones that we can implement into Tucson programs,” said Glaucia Brannock, a political science senior.

Children as young as 9 years old are able to perform CPR effectively, through a study done with 147 students in Portugal, according to the students’ research.

“That was amazing to know,” Brannock said, relating that experience to her time in Brazil as a professional swimmer.

Jennifer Tomlinson, a nursing junior, said she saw the internship as an opportunity to view the medical field from a technical perspective.

“The small facts is what really brought the actual project together,” Tomlinson said. “Such as a barrier; that will save one life. It was eye opening, since I have a younger niece and something as simple as a bucket of water can cause her to drown.
The details were what really shocked me.”

In a partnership with TMC, local YMCA branches have implemented free swim lessons and personal flotation devices for low-income families through a grant from Kohl’s.

“It was a great opportunity to have these UA interns provide research that would make our programs more robust,” said Donna Lewandowski, community outreach specialist for TMC. “They really gave us a beautiful outline on how to keep the program moving forward.”


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