Resuscitating a drowned person

How far does this go back?

The reason I ask is that in a recent television program [that I shall not name], a character named Xena drowned. Her faithful companion, Gabrielle, immediately started administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and massaging her chest to get her heart started back.

. . . A few minutes later I started wondering just how far back people realized that a “drowned” person could be revived if they were retrieved soon after taking in water.

Looks like biblical times. Here’s what I found:

Kings II 4:34. Elisha performs what seems to be an primitive version of mouth-to-mouth.

Zev Steinhardt

As with all interesting questions, it unfortunately depends.

If the water was extremely cold, a person may have had their mammalian diving reflex activated. Whenever your face becomes covered with cold water, your vitals immediately drop, helping you to conserve the resources available in your body. People in extremely cold water that have entered cardiac arrest have survived long after first “drowning”, and these levels drop off rapidly as the water warms. Try it. Take your pulse, dip your head in ice water, and take your pulse again. Fun, huh? Not see how long you can hold your breath. Rest. See how long you can hold your breath with your head in ice water.

Secondly, did she actually drown? Often people merely begin to accumulate water within their airway without actually drowning, which occurs when water finally enters the bronchi, preventing respiration. If she actually drowned, she’s screwed. If she merely suffocated and went into cardiac/ resp arrest, she has a chance in hell. But not really, assuming that Zena’s little friend does not have some ALS equipment nearby such as a defibulator, O2, etc.