Objective: To examine fatal drowning associated with aquatic rescues and prior self-reported experience of undertaking an aquatic rescue in Australia. Methods: Previous aquatic rescue experience was sourced through the 2013 Queensland Computer Assisted Telephone Instrument Survey and compared to data on rescue-related fatal unintentional drowning between 1 January 2006 and 31 December 2015. Results: Twenty-three per cent (n=294/1291) of survey respondents had previously performed an aquatic rescue. Males (X2 =35.2; p<0.001) were more likely to have performed a rescue; commonly at a beach/ocean/harbour location (X2 =13.5; p<0.001). Females were more likely to have rescued a child (0-4 years of age) (X2 =29.2; p<0.001) from a swimming pool (X2 =34.3; p<0.001). Fifty-one people drowned while performing an aquatic rescue (Males=82.4%; 25-44 years of age=53.0%; beaches=54.9%). Conclusions: Drownings are prevented by bystanders; this is not without risk to the rescuer. Most people perform only one rescue in their life, often at a younger age, on an altruistic basis, of family members or young children. Community-wide rescue skills, taught at a young age, with consideration for coastal, inland and swimming pool environments, may prevent drowning. Implications for public health: There is a need to train people early in their life on how to undertake a safe rescue and provide resuscitation, including promoting regular updates, in particular if supervising children.