January 28, 2020
It's often very emotionally charged when you're dealing with a child who has stopped breathing - it's very easy to over-complicate what's happening because of the gravity of the situation," he told Newshub.
"It's easy to panic in any resuscitation if you haven't done one before, and it's even easier to panic if it's a child who needs to be resuscitated."
Drum has been an intensive care paramedic for 10 years, with St John and most recently with the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter. He's helped save multiple children's lives, but first responders can't always get to the scene of an emergency as fast as they'd like.
That's where Westpac's new Rescue Rashies come in. The innovative rash vests come equipped with handy instructions on what to do if a child gets into trouble while swimming.
"The nature of performing resuscitation is so time-critical, that whoever is there at the time plays such a vital role in whether it's going to be successful or not," says Drum.
Unzip the front of the Rashie and there are step-by-step instructions on how to determine if the wearer needs CPR, and exactly how to do it. It also provides SPF 50+ protection from the sun.
Contrary to what many believe, the process is virtually the same as for adults - compress the chest about a third of its depth 30 times, at a rate of compressions per second, followed by two breaths. The only difference is depending on the size of the child, you might need to use just one hand, rather than two.
On average, five Kiwi kids aged four or under drown every year in New Zealand. While deaths have been steadily decreasing, we still have one of the worst rates per head of population in the OECD - there were 78 preventable drowning deaths in 2019, according to Water Safety NZ.
And fewer Kiwi kids are getting the chance to learn basic swimming skills. In 2002 there were more than 1900 swimming pools in state schools - as of December last year, there were only 1341. A University of Otago study in 2017 found two-thirds of kids couldn't swim 100m.
Drum says people sometimes are afraid to perform CPR, fearing they'll do it wrong, or that someone else will do it - and too often, nobody does. It's hoped the Rashies will remove that hesitation - for every minute CPR is delayed, the chances of survival drops by 10 percent or more.
"You can really do no harm by starting CPR on someone - if they don't need it, they'll tell you pretty quickly. But if they do need it, then you're going to contribute to saving their life - the sooner the better."
Westpac NZ General Manager of Consumer Banking and Wealth, Gina Dellabarca says "Westpac has a long-standing partnership with the Rescue Helicopter spanning nearly 40 years. Having more people understand the importance of both speed and first aid knowledge will help in saving lives."
"Kiwis love getting out and spending the summer months in and around the water, and the Rashies should give parents greater peace of mind knowing they can react quickly if their child gets into trouble," she says.
The rash vests come in two sizes - 4-5 and 6-7. For a chance to win one visit westpac.co.nz/rescuerashie, where you can also watch Casey Drum deliver a short lesson on CPR and download a handy CPR instruction guide to stick on your fridge.