Over two in every five deaths that occur as a result of drowning on the Mar Menor are caused by accidents, carelessness or negligence and not because of medical reasons according to results of the first study that has been carried out at a national level to determine the causes of the deaths in the water.
The results were presented by Murcia’s Minister of Health, Manuel Villegas, along with senior cardiologist of the Virgen de la Arrixaca Clinic Hospital, Juan Ramón Gimeno, and the Cartagena coroner Almudena Simon.
The Ministry of Health has led this study, which was compiled by professionals from the emergency medical units (EMU) outside the hospital, the institutes of Forensic Medicine of Cartagena and Murcia and the Cardiology Service of the Arrixaca.
“Despite the improved measures of communication on local beaches as well as better staffing and rescue equipment, the number of deaths are still too high,” explained Villegas, “hence the need for this study. Drowning, technically known as a water immersion syndrome, is an important cause of death, with 430 cases recorded so far in Spain this year.”
In 2017, 46 people aged between 2 to 85 years were treated in the Region of Murcia, mainly in the summer season, with death in 35 percent of cases.
41 percent of the drownings occurred in the Mediterranean, 41 percent in the Mar Menor and 18 percent in freshwater.
In 63.2 percent of cases, a secondary cause leading to a loss of consciousness and drowning was identified. Among them the most frequent were cardiac related with 26.3 percent and epilepsy, 13.2 percent.
Secondary causes were proportionally more frequent in older people. As such the average age of people with immersion syndrome due to these causes was 66 years compared to the average 43-year-old who suffered immersion syndrome due to accidents or carelessness.
In addition, the people who died were older, with an average age of 70 years. Villegas stressed the need for “these people to take special care and not to bathe themselves or to do so in areas where they stand.”
He said that it is essential that more people are trained cardiopulmonary resuscitation manoeuvres since the time is very important for a person who is unconscious and has stopped breathing, with permanent brain injury occurring after only 4 minutes without oxygen and death 4 to 6 minutes later.
For this reason, the counsellor announced that the Ministry of Health will create a mobile application to geolocalize defibrillators throughout the region, so that they can be accessed quickly, increasing the chance of survival of the affected.