Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children between ages of one and five. Southwest Ambulance knows this all too well as it responds to a high number of drowning related incidents brought on by the abundance of backyard swimming pools. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that for every child who drowns, four are hospitalized for near drowning. The Arizona Department of Health Services reports that in the Phoenix metropolitan area, 158 children were hospitalized or seen in an emergency department for a non-fatal drowning in 2008. As a result of drowning or submersion, 16 Phoenix area children died.
In 2002, Southwest Ambulance staff began brainstorming ideas of how to reduce the risk of drowning. Fire departments and other agencies across Arizona have done an excellent job educating parents on water-related risks, the need for constant vigilance, and the need for fences around backyard pools. Therefore, Southwest Ambulance wanted to offer a program that would compliment the efforts of its fire department partners.
One Southwest Ambulance employee suggested teaching every child to swim. Within the hour, Southwest Ambulance's Pool Pack Swim Lesson program was established. A testament the company's longstanding belief in the program, an estimated 30,000 kids have received free or reduced cost swim lessons since 2002.
Since the program's inception, Southwest Ambulance has donated more than $250,000 to local aquatics programs and Parks and Recreation departments, providing free or reduced cost swim lessons to Valley families. Individual requests for financial assistance and swim lesson details are handled directly by community parks and recreation departments. Each program is independently managed, offering varying levels of sponsorships for swim lessons based on community needs.
Call your local Parks and Recreation Department to learn if it offers swim lessons at a reduced rate or for free thanks to Southwest Ambulance.