First responders warn year-round to be safe around water, but if the situation arose would you have the correct response?

Phoenix firefighters hosted a mock drowning at the Pointe Hilton at Squaw Peak on Tuesday, April 1, to demonstrate the best way to respond during an emergency.

A couple witnessed a woman floating face down in the water. They called to her and tried to get her attention. When they got no response they called 911 and asked others for help get the woman out of the pool. Once she was out, they began CPR.

“The average response time for the fire department is four to four and a half minutes,” said Kelly Liebermann of the Phoenix Fire Department. “You can imagine that amount of time will seem like a lifetime when you’re down here providing compressions to someone and trying to save their life… After four to six minutes without oxygen the brain starts to die. Once it starts to die it’s not coming back.”

Once paramedics arrive, witnesses need to be able to give them all the details they know like how long the woman had been in the water and what was going on around her. Those details will be important to rescuers as they assess the situation, and to police as they begin their investigation.

The Phoenix Fire Department, along with partners across the Valley, will be hosting pool safety events throughout the month of April.

“It’s simple: Prevention is the key,” said Acting Fire Chief Kara Kalkbrenner. “It’s the only key. You need adult supervision, barriers, and you need to know CPR… When a child is pulled from the pool the media never sees that part. They are blue. They are lifeless. They don’t have a heart beat. If it happens to be a parent, grandparent, babysitter or friend that pulls that child from the pool it’s an incredibly upsetting experience. It can be frightening and if you don’t know what to do, overwhelming.”

There has already been 16 water-related incidents in Maricopa County this year. Five children have died.

SRP is working with the Phoenix Fire Department to distribute 15,000 water safety DVDs to the public, which cover how to perform CPR on adults, children and infants. The video can be viewed online at To obtain a free copy, call (602) 236-5646.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or

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