Dec 16, 2008
Recently, my friend and I were in a situation where we were outside to long-[it's cold in winter where we live] and I'm 99.9% sure that my friend was a victim of mild-moderate Hypothermia. I want to make sure I treated it correctly or just got lucky. And some credible advice on what to IF it would EVER happen again would be nice.
My friend had some disadvantages already on the occasion.
-She didn't have a winter coat. I know, sounds dumb! And she admits it was.
-She has hypoglycemia, which I've read CAN contribute to Hypothermia
-She's had frost bite before and is naturally sensitive to cold
-She's sensitive to ANY extreme temperatures-hot or cold
-I don't want to sound sexist but, she's a girl. I've also read that women tend to get colder faster
Her advantages were she's young enough and she's smart. Both of her parents were in the medical field so she knew what was going on with her LONG before I did.
So we started walking, our car broke down and we had no phone on us at the time so we were forced to walk. I noticed the effects of the cold in stages and thought I would list them for anyone's future reference, including my own. Note, I don't know if they're divided into the proper, if you will, list of Hypothermic phases.
First, she shivered. As did I, seeing how it is a normal reaction. But after about 10-20 minutes the shivering became more violent and less controllable. She was still responding normally to conversation and seemed aware.
Second, She began to numb. She claimed she couldn't feel most of her body. Soon after that, her shivering stopped but she still seemed alert for the next short while. Although she was talking and moving, her speech and posture became sloppier, not to much later. She was saying and doing irrational things and ALMOST appeared as though she was intoxicated, which she wasn't.
Third, she became even sloppier in movements and speech. She was breathing but she said her lungs hurt. She then claimed that she wanted to sit down, even "just for a second". That was when I started to really worry and I wouldn't let her rest. I remember hearing that a victim of Hypothermia shouldn't sleep and I feared if she sat down she would become unconscious.
Fourth, by this time she could barely walk. She stumbled and fell down a lot so I had to help her keep moving. I was afraid if I carried her she would become unconscious and her body would shut down before we got to safety. Her speech didn't make a whole lot of sense. Though, somewhat relevant to the situation, it sounded more like how a heavily intoxicated person would talk. She practically begged for me to let her sit, but I didn't. I had to pretty much hold her up and keep her moving.
We finally made it to a camper that my dad owns and that I have access to. I still wanted her to stay awake so I pretty much covered her head and core (and the rest of her. Just head and core especially) with blankets and such. I gave her warm water to drink, because it was all we had. I didn't let her sleep until her pulse, breathing, and temperature was as normal as I could tell. Once she seemed alert and poised again. Obviously, I could have done more and I would've taken her to a hospital if I could. I also know that I didn't treat it as well as I should have. Is there anything that I could've done to help her heat back up safer? I'm no Hypothermia expert.