The spine is made up of a strong and flexible cord of bones named vertebrae. Its function is to support the head and trunk protecting the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a bunch of nerves coming through vertebrae to conduct nerve impulses from the brain throughout the body. Any injury to the spine may damage said nerves causing either paralysis or death. Any part of the spine can be injured. But neck injuries occur more frequently due to the mobility this area naturally has. When you are not sure if the person is undergoing spinal injury think about these two questions: what was the person doing when the accident occurred? And, which mechanism caused the injury?
Generally, spinal injury in water occurs when a person impacts on the bottom or onto an object under the water. It may also occur when falling down from a protruding place or from a place 3 times higher than his own height (diving board) or as a result from falling onto someone else.The Lifeguard’s main concern is to place the victim’s face out of the water to allow him/her breathe and, at the same time, keep the head and neck motionless. Movement may deepen injury and may increase the person’s risk to get paralysis. The Lifeguard’s goal is to avoid spinal movement and remove the victim to a safe place to wait for the Emergency Medical Service. To achieve so, the rescuer must know how to perform the proper techniques and equipment. The necesary equipment to be used when a victim is supposed to be undergoing spinal injury, are the spinal board with straps, the head supports and the cervical collar.