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Firefighters Add One More Fatality to 2013 List: Teen who Drowned in 2001

Surviving a drowning doesn't mean you're home-free, says a a fire captain. The Orange County girl had been on a ventilator since she was 22 months old.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

With “drowning season” upon us, a stark reminder: Last year’s fatalities in Orange County just went up a by one when firefighters learned this week a 13-year-old died in 2013 … from complications she experienced since her drowning in 2001.

“She was 22 months old at the time,” said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi. “She had been on a ventilator all these years.”

The Fire Authority no longer uses the term "near-drownings" for incidents where victims survive. 

The addition of the teen from Anaheim brings the fatality total for 2013 to 37 out of 73 incidents altogether, Concialdi said.

On Tuesday alone, Orange County firefighters responded to two calls of drowning, a 4-year-old who looks like he will make it and a 73-year-old who probably won’t, he added.

And like the 13-year-old’s delayed reaction proves, initial survival doesn’t mean victims are home free, Concialdi said.

“Just because they don’t die, there can be a lot of neurological issues. Some are on a ventilator. Some die later,” he said.

A division fire chief told the San Juan Capistrano City Council last year that California leads the nation in drownings, which can be prevented by following the ABCs:

Active adult supervision – this is kind of like a designated driver someone who pledges not to drink or socialize while children are near water

Barriers -- gates, gate alarms, motion detectors, water motion detectors, pool covers, adequate fencing that’s at least 5 feet tall and “non-climbable” to a child

Classes – learn CPR, first aid and rescue techniques

So far this year, there have been 11 drownings, six of them fatal, Concialdi said.

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