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    Field Treatment of Hypothermia

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    Hypothermia is a major concern for winter sports enthusiasts and cold weather rescuers. In both alpine and Nordic skiing it can complicate injuries and be a hazard for lost persons; in Nordic skiing it may be a hazard for tourers and ski mountaineers unequipped for sudden weather changes. Skiers need a working knowledge of the principles of heat production and conservation, the use of clothing and natural materials for insulation, and the techniques of cold-weather survival. A mildly hypothermic subject (one with a rectal temperature of 32°C or above) can be rewarmed in the field using any available means. Special devices for rewarming are available for rescue groups. A victim of moderate to severe hypothermia (with a rectal temperature below 32°C) should be stabilized, kept from getting colder, and evacuated to definite medical care rather than rewarmed in the field, if possible. Ventricular fibrillation is a serious hazard and should be prevented by gentle handling.


    skiing safety, skiing trauma, hypothermia, cold injury, exposure, ski patrol, mountain rescue, backcountry first aid, rewarming, ventricular fibrillation

    Author Information:

    Bowman, Warren D.
    Clinical assistant professor of medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, and national medical advisor, National Ski Patrol System, Inc., Billings, MT

    Committee/Subcommittee: F27.65

    DOI: 10.1520/STP46660S