One whole minute under water will, except with a few practised divers, end life in a human being. Still, by active means, those longer immersed, as much as five minutes, have been restored. It is always worth while and right to give every drowned person the benefit of the doubt, and to work over him for at least an hour, even if no signs of life appear, before giving him up. Drowning kills by exclusion of air from the blood in the lungs; water taking its place. This is said to be an easy mode of death. Those recovered from it describe it as a sort of dreamy sleep, followed by entire un consciousness.
A person has been, we will suppose, a few minutes under water, and is dragged out. At once, on the spot, lay him first on his stomach, and raise his feet a little higher than his head, for a few moments; some one at the same time pressing with moderate force on the sides of the chest. The object of this is to let water flow out, if it will, from the lungs.
Next, lay the patient on his back, and put under his shoulders a roll of clothing, such as a rolled-up overcoat, a hard pillow, etc. Draw out his tongue, with a thumb and finger, and get some one to hold it until it can be fixed forward, to prevent it from falling back and closing the entrance to the windpipe. For this fixation a small india-rubber band will be best. If none such is on - hand, a paper-cutter, or a small stick, may be held upon the drawn-out tongue, pressing it upon the lower teeth.
Now comes the effort to produce artificial respiration. Silvester's method is the best.
Stand or kneel behind his head, and take hold of his arms just above the elbows. Draw them both gently and steadily upwards, over and back of the head, at their full length; and keep them there for a second or so. Then carry them back again to the patient's sides, and press the elbows firmly against his sides, for another second or so. Go on doing this, perseveringly, if necessary, for an hour or more. The object of it is, to promote expansion of the lungs to admit air, by the first movement; and its expansion, again by the second movement.
The legs may be rubbed briskly, upward, so as to favor the return of blood in the veins to the heart. Smelling-salts may be now and then held for a few moments under the nostrils. If a fire be near, heat a small flat-iron, or a poker, or .shovel, not quite to the burning point, but pretty hot, and touch it gently, again and again, to the skin over the pit of the stomach. ' This is a powerful mode of stimulation.
When natural breathing begins, stop the arm- movements. Continue the rubbing, but also have hot bricks, flat-irons, or bags of sand or salt, bottles of hot water, or anything else warm, laid alongside of the patient's body, and put to his feet. Get him now upon a bed. Shortly, he will recover so as to swallow ; and hot milk or hot coffee or tea will be better for him than anything else.