The International Swimming Hall of Fame hosted a fascinating and visionary “Conference on Near-Death Experiences While Drowning”, on Friday, August 18th, 2017. Since its inception in 1965, ISHOF has been the "Mecca of Aquatics," bringing together many fascinating people and acting as the facilitator for knowledge exchange. This conference aims to bring attention to near-death experiences during a drowning episode, a very important issue largely neglected by most aquatic safety professionals.
“I could see, floating in the air, the lifeguards attempting to resuscitate a lifeless body; it was mine.” “I saw a bright light that asked me, in a life review, what I have done in my life for love and learning.” “I felt peace and no fear of death.” These are the words of people reporting what they experienced during the time they “died” temporarily during a drowning episode, as reported by Holden and Avramidis in their book Near-Death Experiences While Drowning. Such Reports are termed near-death experiences (NDEs). Contemporary advances in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and defibrillation have enabled lifeguards and first responders to bring large numbers of victims back to life, heretofore unprecedented in human history. Of the millions of those who survive drowning each year, approximately 20% of survivors report NDEs. Read More!
Often when victims report their NDEs to health care providers and first responders, due to lack of information, the confidantes may label the experience or experiencer as pathological. However, research shows no relationship between NDEs and mental disorder. When an NDE is discounted, it becomes psychologically disconcerting to survivors. Similarly, the survivors or their families may believe that the experiencers have lost touch with reality. Presenters at this conference discussed NDE characteristics that a successfully resuscitated drowning casualty might report; provide a sample of drowning NDE accounts; offer recommendations for how water safety and other healthcare professionals can use NDE related information in their work; and, included a poster session open to any water safety- and aquatic-related professional to provide information relevant to drowning in terms of prevention, rescue, and treatment. This conference provided a day of insight into this unique phenomenon, along with providing useful professional information for first responders and medical personnel.
Conference presenters included: Bruce Wigo¸ JD, ISHOF President and CEO, discussing the importance of hosting a conference on Drowning Related NDEs; Stathis Avramidis, DipEd, BEd, MSc, MPH, PhD, Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Seasonal Instructor of Applied Lifeguarding and Lifesaving Sport at the University of Athens, Greece, Greece, who discussed the "NDE Mnemonic" and NDE Protocol": Two Useful Tools for Lifeguards; Janice Miner Holden, EdD, LPC-S, NCC, ACMHP, Professor of Counseling and Chair of the Department of Counseling and Higher Education, University of North Texas, who presented, “Near-Death Experiences: An Overview of 40 Years of Research”. Other speakers included: Audrey C. Dalton, survivor of a drowning incident who recounted her NDE; John Spannuth, President and CEO, United States Water Fitness Association who discussed the Importance of Swimming and Lifeguard Lessons; and Aquatics and Drowning Prevention professional Kim Burgess, who discussed why learning about drowning is informative to Aquatic Safety Professionals, First Responders and Survivor Families.
Conference information was found online at https://drowningnde.blogspot.com/. Conference registration was available on the ISHOF website. Luncheon and refreshments were included in the conference fees. Please note in addition to conference fees, City of Ft. Lauderdale parking fees applied for all parking facilities, including the International Swimming Hall of Fame. All fees act as a donation to the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
About the International Swimming Hall of Fame
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