SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1985

Field Treatment of Hypothermia


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.

Author Information

Bowman, Warren, D.
School of Medicine, University of Washington, and national medical advisor, National Ski Patrol System, Inc., Billings, MT
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Developed by Committee: F27
Pages: 464–468
DOI: 10.1520/STP46660S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-6832-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-6833-6