Updated: Wednesday, 27 Jul 2011, 10:47 PM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 27 Jul 2011, 6:01 PM EDT
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - If you picture what you think a person looks when when they are on the verge of drowning, do you see them waving their arms and yelling for help? That might be what happens in movies, but in real life, it's a much different scene.
There are people very close to him who didn't realize a boy was drowning.
Instinctive drowning response educator Dr. Frank Pia said, "This young boy does not have any movement in or out from shore, neither left nor right, he remains in the same position and extends his arms out to the sides. Drowning people don't have a choice; nature tells them what to do."
After 20 years as a lifeguard, witnessing thousands of people close to drowning on Orchard Beach in the Bronx, Dr. Pia captured what he calls the "Instinctive Drowning Response."
"The young boy's mouth is sinking below and re-appearing above the surface of the water," said Dr. Pia.
Most drowning victims can't yell for help because they're having trouble breathing, and their arms are busy grabbing the surface of the water.
But when help arrives, Dr. Pia says, "You'll see the young boy's struggle immediately stop and during the rescue, the lifeguard props him further and further. The further the boy's mouth gets from the water, you'll see his heading turning around, so he's looking for safety. Parents, you have to understand that the struggle of the drowning person lasts between 20 and 60 seconds. Young children struggle less than adults. The drowning movements of a young child can look like they're actually doing the dog paddle in the water when they're actually drowning."