WakeMed doctor invents anti-drowning device

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Dr. Snyder invented a device that could potentially save a life. (WTVD)

Working as an emergency physician at WakeMed, Dr. Graham Snyder has seen a lot of close-calls, a lot of death, and comforted a lot of grieving families over the years.

"One of the most personally painful things to me is talking to parents when they've lost a child from drowning," said Dr. Snyder.

One case about a young girl who drowned while swimming in a backyard pool during a family reunion stood out to him.

"Everyone was doing everything right and she just slipped under and nobody saw it," he said. "They thought she was just holding her breath and when they pulled her up, they had lost her."

It was then that Snyder decided to invent a device that could potentially save a life and spare a family from what he calls a preventable tragedy.



He created the SEAL SwimSafe, a necklace-like band that goes around a child's neck. Several times a second, as they're swimming, the band sends 'all is well' signals to a hub that Mom or Dad would keep next to their pool chair or a lifeguard would attach to their stand.

Snyder said the FCC-certified wearable technology uses a much lower frequency and power than your cell phone but can reach the distance of a football field and surrounding area.

When the child goes under water, the SwimSafe times them. If the child stays under water longer than the threshold of pain, a strobe light and siren fire from the band and a loud, unmistakable alarm sounds from the hub.

Snyder said he set the threshold of pain window to where kids can't go under the water and set it off just for fun, but it's enough time to where an adult can still rescue them.

The second generation of the device is being built and Snyder's team is working on a price structure.

He hopes by the end of the year, to send it out to municipalities and YMCA's in target markets before sending it nationwide.

"Technology is not a substitute for vigilant parents," Snyder said of his invention. "The most important thing is we teach our children to swim, teach them early and then watch them vigilantly and be ready to rescue. This technology is to prevent the human error, the fact that we're not perfect no matter how much we love our children, sometimes we will miss something and this is for that opportunity."
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