Welcome to Dirty First Aid Series – Part 5 which will focus on Hypothermia.
Paddlers, no matter the discipline or location can all suffer from Hypothermia – a condition brought about due to the lowering of the core body temperature. Its final stage is death. Hypothermia is caused when someone cannot produce enough heat themselves to fight the effects of cold. Immersion in colder water, cold air temperature or exhaustion are the usual suspects. The former is the one that we will look at now – principally because it’s the one that we come across most often as paddlers.
Immersion hypothermia can mean that the body hasn’t depleated all its energy reserves, meaning the casualty can possibly respond quicker and recover with simple #hacks #dirtywork.
Get the casualty warm, and get energy food in to them.
RUB THE CASUALTY
PLACE HOT OBJECTS DIRECT ON THE BODY
MAKE THEM WIGGLE ARMS AND LEGS
Even the most experienced can get in to trouble, as this story shows.
Derek and Mick are both skilled expedition kayakers, both work in the industry and both knew the river well. They set off in the thin dawn light to make a speed descent high in the Indian Himalaya. They had limited food, no shelter, no stove. They hoped to make the trip in 3 days, for a normally 5 day trip. The day started well, no scouting – they had loaded boats with a few donuts, a mars bar each and some cheese. They also had sleeping bags.
They wore drysuits and thermals, even pogies. Late in the afternoon of day one, Derek found his skirt was ripped and his boat taking on water, with the gorge walls he had no space to empty out. The pair paddled for hours as the cold glacier water dripped in the boat – the water just above freezing lapped at his nether regions. He was sitting in the cold puddle for hours. As night fell the pair decidedto find the first beach after the gorge opened out. Tired, drained, Derek got out of his boat, his fingers numb, his body shivering uncontrollably. He dragged his boat to the over hanging cliff, and took off the drenched suit. Mick, kept Derek talking, Derek was talking more rubbish than normal but Mick monitored his signs.
Derek stripped to his dry thermals, crawled inside his sleeping bag then got inside the bag Mick had. Mick kept his core warm with his down jacket – then they spooned – Derek was the little spoon even though he was bigger. #sweaty #dirty #manlove
Soon Derek found his core temperature warm and he could feel his fingers, his teeth stopped chattering. Feasting on the food, they both sat back against the rocks. Now content, no longer spooning. They spoke of what to do in the morning and how far to go. It was like a one night stand conversation – but without the regretted intercourse…
WARM THE CORE
Images Pure Land Expeditions, from Tim Cain course.
Old man river Darren Clarkson-King (DAZ) will be supplying a series of ‘Dirty First Aid’ articles for river runners.
Darren offers in-house training in the Himalaya and is a consultant for Nepal Association of Rafting Agents (NARA) making a blue print for an Industry standard.
He also paddles a bit.