How To Help A Drowning Person, Inspired By The Florida Teens Who Watched Jamel Dunn Die
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Politics and Activism

How To Help A Drowning Person, Inspired By The Florida Teens Who Watched Jamel Dunn Die

Jamel Dunn, a 31-year-old disabled man, is dead.

How To Help A Drowning Person, Inspired By The Florida Teens Who Watched Jamel Dunn Die

Very rarely do things I read or watch online upset me to the point of having to turn off or away from what's on the screen. Obvious stuff like the gruesome terrorist propaganda videos from ISIS, or people abusing animals will trigger that reaction in me, but never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that five teens from Florida could evict that same emotion.

I'm not even going to link the video I'm talking about as it angers me so much that it exists. If you want to go look for it yourself, go ahead. Just Google, “Florida man drowns while teens mock” and you'll be sure to find it. Sadly.

Let me say that I'm a pretty big water safety nerd. I've held some form of lifeguarding certification for over 11 years. Things others might not know or even care about, I hold close to me.

For example: These things are not life jackets; they're personal flotation devices (PFDs). I don't care how old or how good of a swimmer you think you are; never swim alone. Even if you're submerged in water, you can still get dehydrated. Never, never, never try to push yourself to the max while breath-holding. And if you're not trained in water rescues, don't go out and try to help a distressed/actively drowning swimmer.

I'm sure you might be thinking, “But Keegan, you just said that the video of the boys not helping that drowning man really upset you, but now you're saying not to help someone in trouble?”

Well, you're partly correct.

It's extremely dangerous for everyone involved if you're untrained and enter the water to try to help a victim. Someone who is actively drowning wants two things more than anything else, first being to get out of the water, and secondly to freely breath air. And if you just made your way out to try to help someone, you just gave them the means to do both of these things – by them frantically climbing on top of you, which leads you being pushed underwater and struggling to get air.

And now there are two actively drowning people in the water. Way to go.

This is why I can't iterate enough: Never go out to help someone in the water if you don't know how.

But this doesn't mean you can't help at all.

There are things you can do to help while keeping yourself safe! Remember this saying: Reach, throw, but never go.

I don't know where the saying originated from (I know it has been around way longer than I have), but I've been teaching it to 4th graders in the Mount Vernon school district for almost a decade. It's an easy rhyme to remember, easy to carry out in an emergency, and honestly can be life-saving.

If someone is in trouble in the water and you're close enough reach out to them, by all means just do it! Using an arm, leg, pole, towel, pool noodle – whatever you have around, use it! Just remember tug of war: You want to lean back so you don't get pulled forward.

Now if they're too far away to reach out with anything, do what you can to give something to float with. Throw a ring buoy (although don't aim for the head, those things are like a piece of wood), a PFD, a kickboard, an empty cooler! Just something that will float. After you get whatever you can put to the person in trouble be sure to talk with them, doing your best to keep them calm. Trust me, it may not seem like much but helps immensely.

If they're too far out, up reach or throw something, then do what you can from the safety of the shore and call 911 while keeping an eye on the victim. It may not seem like much, but it's truly better than doing nothing or risking your own life. It's also crucial to be watching where they are. If you see them go under water and not resurface, at least you know approximately where they went under water. By sharing that information with advance emergency services, you increase the chances of them locating the victim quicker and possibly saving their life.

Now back to the Florida teens. The teens who did NOTHING right in this scenario, as they literally did nothing at all. Nothing but verbally mock and film and man who audibly yelled for help multiple times.

And now that man is dead.

His name was Jamel Dunn. He was 31 years old. He was disabled. He had people that loved and cared for him. He still had so much more life to live. And he is now dead because five teens didn't even have the human decency to call 911 for help.

I still can't bring my mind to grasp what has happened. The more I think about this, the more I want to yell out in anger, and cry in sorrow. My heart goes out Jamel’s family and friends. You were lost too soon.

It was initially reported that the teens wouldn't see any charges for what they did – but as of late, that looks like it may change.

I hope it does.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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