1. Jayesh Sinha

    Jayesh Sinha Member

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    A question about drowning

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Jayesh Sinha, Jul 30, 2020.

    It is an important plot point in a story that a person drowns and I need some specifics cleared up.

    So let me explain the events without going into reasons for why these characters do what they do.

    '1' jumps in a lake to commit suicide, while '2' and '3' are near the lake. Neither knows how to swim. So 2 runs off to get help, while '3' takes a rowboat to where '1' is drowning.

    Now '2' takes a while to return with the help, and when he does he finds that '1' is lying on the bank of the lake and '3' is sitting next to him.

    The angle is that '3' was able to pull '1' onto the rowboat and brought him ashore, but even so, '1' had too much water in his lungs and died.

    When the doctor who comes with '2' checks on '1', he pronounces '1' has already drowned and dead

    Does this scenario seem plausible?

    If '1' drowned, then will '3' still have been able to bring him to the shore? Will '1' have necessarily sunk to the bottom of the lake upon drowning. If that is so then '3' would not have been able to bring the body to the shore.

    It is pivotal that it be believable that '3' brought the body of '1' to the shore after '1' drowned.

    Does this chain of events make sense? That '1' drowned but hadn't sunk underwater to the bottom yet, and '3' was able to get him on the boat. If not, how to fix this.

    Regards
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2020
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  2. Vandor76

    Vandor76 Senior Member

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    It is not only plausible but unfortunately it happens in reality. A drowning person holds his breath as long as he can but at a point the breathing reflex takes over control and he tries to breathe underwater, eventually filling up his lungs.
    At this moment he is already doomed (without help) but still conscious (even if only barely) and tries to keep himself on the surface.

    If he is rescued now, his life may be saved by putting him in a position where his head is at the lowest point and pushing hard against his back (pushing water out from the lungs). There is not much time for this, because when you start this process his brain might be already without oxygen for minutes.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2020
  3. hankas

    hankas New Member

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    I would like to add just one minor detail. It is not that easy to pull a drowned person onto the rowboat. The rowboat may flip. A safe way is to use a rope and pull the drowned person back to the shore, but how do you tie a rope on a person who does not want to be rescued and who is possibly unconscious?
     
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  4. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    It's an interesting question and one I can't answer for sure. The getting them back to shore element I wouldn't have a problem with. You don't say where your POV is, so providing it's not with characters 3 and 1 (the drowning and rescuer) then you don't need to worry about how they got them back to shore.

    Now to whether or not a drowned person would sink or float. All I can say is that if the movies are to be believed, they float. Think of all those Westerns where we see a defeated baddie floating down the river. Now this may be because they died of a gunshot, but I've seen countless scenes in Westerns that feature two people fighting in a river, and one of them drowns the other before releasing their corpse and watching it float away with the current.
     
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  5. Hammer

    Hammer Contributor Contributor

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    I can offer some first-hand experience with this...

    Last year I was sitting in a riverside pub with a neighbour when someone sprinted past talking on the telephone - at first we thought he was a pretentious twat, but quickly realised that he had seen someone "fall" from a nearby bridge (a suicide attempt as it turned out) so we immediately got onto my boat and went to assist. My neighbour (in his seventies) was unable to lift the (unconscious) man onto the bathing platform but was able to hold him steady whilst I kept the boat from running aground and blocked a bridge arch so that the man wasn't hit by an unwitting boat coming downstream.

    Some lads in another pub, opposite, launched an inflatable and came to help - they were able to manhandle the man onto the dinghy and get him to shore to await the emergency services; so - yes, depending on the boat, it is possible to hoick an unconscious man out of the water, but you need strength or numbers. Our man was floating; I believe that humans will float for a while, get waterlogged and sink, then inflate as they start to decay inside and bob back up.

    I know what's worrying you, but, no, our beers weren't too warm to drink when we got back.... (and the emergency services were able to keep the man alive - his father turned up and thanked us all profusely, it wasn't the poor guy's first rodeo apparently)
     
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  6. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    As I'm sure we all would o_O
     
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  7. Hammer

    Hammer Contributor Contributor

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    One would hope...


    ETA, and as I already said, we didn't finish our beers until we knew that the guy was safe. That's how conscientious we were.
     
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  8. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    No, I was trying to humorously highlight the way you casually dropped the fact you have a boat in there, but I don't think I pulled it off.
     
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  9. Hammer

    Hammer Contributor Contributor

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    Ah, yes, I do have a boat. I live by a river, it is a very useful thing to have - in fact I have just been away for a couple of weeks on it (writing trip; I did manage a few thousand words in between meeting friends, making new friends, and doing my best to avert a drought by mopping up plenty of beer) and am not entirely thrilled to be home. I may have been a water-rat in a former life...
     
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  10. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 12/210 MP: 0/130 Contributor

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    Hang on. If 2 and 3 are already on the lake, how does 2 get to shore? Do they row to shore, 2 hops out and 3 rows to where 1 is?

    Because that doesn't seem like a natural reaction. The natural thing to do is for both to row to 1, pick him up and then row to shore and call the emergency services.
     
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  11. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    I took it to mean they were by the lake, rather than on it. I may be wrong.
     
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  12. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Contributor Contributor

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    Interesting.

    I don't see how person #3 is going to pull person #1 out of the water and into the boat. Person #1 is going to be a limp, dead weight made heavier because their clothing is water logged.

    This could be addressed if person #3 loops some type of a rope harness around person #1's torso. It's not going to be perfect but.....the only other solution I see is for person #3 to hang on to person #1 themselves which brings up another problem.....

    being as this is a rowboat, how exactly does person #3 row back to shore while holding on to #1?


    **There have been documented reports of mothers pulling vehicles off their trapped kids, maybe some type of superhuman strength can kick in and help person #3 with the rescue but..... Hmm, take a look at the movie "Hacksaw Ridge" for how Desmond (last name???) was able to rescue so many injured soldiers. It's possible. People have won medals of honour and valour for doing impossible stuff.
     
  13. Jayesh Sinha

    Jayesh Sinha Member

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    Hi all,

    Thx a lot for your replies. I would like to address some of the points raised.

    1) Yes it is a typo that 2 and 3 are 'on' the lake. They are near or by the lake.

    2) 2 and 3 decide that rather than two non swimmers trying to rescue someone drowning, one of them may as well run to get from the town, which is very much running distance.

    3) I see the main problem is not whether the person would sink or not. The fact that a person could drown and still be afloat seems plausible. The main issue is whether the person doing the rescue would be able to pull the body back up on the boat or not.

    What if the person who is drowning is a frail woman. Wouldn't that make the task easier for the person doing to rescue to haul them out of the water and onto the boat.
     
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  14. Hammer

    Hammer Contributor Contributor

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    the relative size and weights are certainly relative - as a 100kg ex rugby player I could almost certainly pull a frail 50kg body on board. The other way round... unlikely.

    There are lots of other variables; a "hard" rowing dinghy will tip alarmingly with the weight of two people (rescuer and rescued) on the gunwale, possibly taking on water and going down like a stone. A narrow, canoe-style boat would almost certainly do this. A flat-bottomed boat like a punt has a degree of form stability so won't tip as much, an inflatable boat still has a degree of buoyancy even when completely submerged.

    IMHO your scenario is certainly possible and believable; your primary task is to make the rescue so compelling that the reader isn't thinking hmm, is that even possible, he or she is simply rushing on with the story and crossing their fingers that the rescuee is ok.
     
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  15. hankas

    hankas New Member

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    Since the drowned person is going to die anyway, why not make the rescuer fails to pull the drowned person on board and has to use a rope and drags the person to the shore. So it may be possible to save the person but given the circumstances the rescuer has done his best.
     
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  16. Maggie May

    Maggie May Active Member

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    Does 2 or 3 have any training in rescue? First thing you are taught is NEVER get close to a drowning person. They will pull you down with them. You grab something for them to hold on to, such as an oar. 1 if they drown before 2 gets there, would sink at first. Until the body releases gases and then depending on the water temperature the body will float for a few days. Knowledge from a brief stint as a volunteer with search/rescue group. I agree it would be very difficult to drag a limp body into a boat. Might be able to tie the body to the boat and pull in or they don't die until they reach shore.
     
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