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Thread: treating hypothermia in the field

  1. #1
    Widdler
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    Hello,

    I'm a product design student currently designing a treatment for hypothermia in the field; my proposed idea is a highly portable facemask that contains a mechanism which once activated produces warm, moist air- a recognised treatment for hypothermia. I intend this mask to be small enough to be carried within a first aid kit; subsequently the mask is simple and would be superseded once a more sophisticated hypothermia treatment arrived at the casualty such as the RES-Q-AIR 1000. The mask would buy time for the casualty and prevent core body temperature dropping further.

    I am posting my idea on this forum to ask viewers of my suggestion whether they think it would be of use, whether there is a need for such a product and if anyone viewing my idea has suffered from hypothermia or know any stories that could benefit my design research such as features my product could include.

    Thanks Martin

  2. #2
    Ultra King Ninja Marmot's Avatar
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    At what level is your study?
    Is it a major or minor project?

  3. #3
    Mini Goon Mark Edis's Avatar
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    For interest sake have a look here

  4. #4
    ‹bermensch Ace High's Avatar
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    I'm not qulified in any way to comment however I'd venture to say that if it works and is simple to use it could be a handy first aid treatment for use by group leaders with appropriate training.

  5. #5
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    Martin

    It is worthy of note that several Mountain Rescue teams/regions in this country have ceased using warm air rebreathers like you describe.

    I am a first aid trainer and i advise my students against active re-warming methods in the field due to the potential of serious complications/contra-indications in critical hypothermia,however they may prove useful in mild/moderate hypothermia.

    The other things to consider are will this be limited in its use on concsious casualties or will this use be extended to the U/C hypothermic as i would suggest that thier reduced respiration rates etc would render this equipment ineffective

  6. #6
    Mini Goon Michael Thompson's Avatar
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    The best way to treat hypothermia, is to place heat pads in the groin and armpits.

    I have never belived in the use of heated face masks, or rebreathers.

  7. #7
    Goon Wee Beastie's Avatar
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    Sorry Martin, good idea but it has been tried and as Wayne says, active re-warming in the field is not being recommended by many. Best you can do is to make sure the casualty does not get any colder and evacuate.

    Try contacting Cave Rescue as I think they still use them and if you can make the equipment smaller, that'll be a bonus to them.

  8. #8
    Goon Graham's Avatar
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    What ?is? the best way to treat hypothermia; I?ve checked a few web sites and got conflicting advice
    Ie.
    Do/don?t remove clothing (replace with dry)
    Warm with drinks/do nothing
    Body contact (transfer heat) yes/no


  9. #9
    Goon Wee Beastie's Avatar
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    Lots of "it depends" situations. What age is the casualty? How physically fit are they? What caused the hypothermia? Where are you? How far is suitable medical help? What equipment do you have with you? How alert is the casualty?

    Probably why you have gotten so many answers.

    Might be worth an article on OM listing best practice and advice. Wayne?


  10. #10
    Ultra King Dave O aka Jungle Dave ;)'s Avatar
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    Yep would agree with WB, other thing I would recomend is a good first aid course that covers mountain specific stuff,

  11. #11
    Mini Goon Alastair Dent 2's Avatar
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    The treatment must depends so much on location.
    I did a first aid training in australia many years ago, and the '1st aide' was really designed around the presumption that professional help would be more than 24hours away.

    UK 1st aid seems to presume that the ambulance will be there in an hour or two.

    So if you are well out of the way, help will only come in 1 or 2 days, what is the best treatment for hypothermia?

  12. #12
    Mini Goon Michael Thompson's Avatar
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    The treatment would be to place the casualty in a bath at a constant 38 degrees.

    In the field use a sleeping bag big enough for two people. Or use a hot water system to keep the ambiant temp up, and wrap them up. But keep a eye out. Depends on the level of hypothermia. Watch out for afterdrop, and handle with exreme care, any rough handling will cause cold blood back into the core, leading to possibly cardio arrest.

  13. #13
    Mini Goon Jim Badger's Avatar
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    i agree with the above , its core temperature that is the vital thing ...they wont re warm if already cold we need an extra bod in sleeping bag for that -i like the concept of active re warming but im wary of the problems associated with the procedure in the field...maybe its something mountain resccue could carry ..i think it would be better to concentrate on educating the average climber in preventative measures rather than dishing out gucci kit

  14. #14
    Ultra King Dave O aka Jungle Dave ;)'s Avatar
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    I think you've just hit the nail on the head there Jim, prevention is better than cure.

    One other little thing a hypothermic casualty is not dead until they are warm & dead!

    UK 1st aid seems to presume that the ambulance will be there in an hour or two.

    Err not always I would have said think 4 hours or so as most rescue teams have to be called out, briefed etc and then reach the casualty on foot.


  15. #15
    Initiate Hayden Holloway's Avatar
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    I used to live on an island and have loads of experience of getting cold in the North sea via snorkelling, windsurfing, sailing etc.

    One of the biggest problems with any person suffering from the effects of hypothermia on the hill IMHO is confusion causing poor decision making further exagerating the problem. This is especially the case with 'lone' walkers.

    Once past the shivering stage of being cold you actually feel ok...

    A freind of mine once started walking out to sea thinking he was walking up the beach after a prelonged snorkelling session. I had to grab him and turn him round before he stopped heading out.

    A warm shower had him back to normal quickly but weather or not this was the correct remedy is open to debate.

    Perhaps a core temperature monitor to prevent or warn of the impending danger may be a better gadget than the heater mask which may prove too complicated to use for a personn in a hypothermic stupor.

    Good luck with you study.









  16. #16
    Mini Goon Jim Badger's Avatar
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    i think core heaters via the rebreather method are a good idea but only via MR teams or trained medical personnel ..i dont see the point of mountaineers carrying this kit in the ir normal med kit...i appears to be pretty easy to use , although im sure most mountaineers would concerntrate on not getting hypothermic in the first place ..

  17. #17
    ‹bermensch Jim Chalmers's Avatar
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    "The treatment would be to place the casualty in a bath at a constant 38 degrees." said Michael Thompson.

    Perhaps some better qualified folk can comment, but I thaought that that treatment was not advised nowadays, as it warms the surface up first, promoting flow of blood through still cold muscles, so chilling it further. Return of that chilled blood to the core has killed people.

    Is this correct?

  18. #18
    Mini Goon Jim Badger's Avatar
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    i think bath rewarming is only meant for moderate or mild hypothermia ..ie core body temp NOT below 30 celsius, but your right is carries risks which is why it should only be carried out in a medical facility with resus equipment..however your techically right in what you say Jim although although i would assume that your concerns are more to do with "rubbing" and placing heat pads next to the skin ..anyone claify this with the latest protocols????

  19. #19
    Ultra King Dave O aka Jungle Dave ;)'s Avatar
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    I was always under the impression that you didn't start rewarming until the casualty could get medical attention.

    Also if you do start rewarming extremities then cold blood is returned to the core possibly causing cardiac arrest etc.



  20. #20
    Widdler
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    In repsonse to all above...

    The use of a warm air breather is acepted by many as a treatment for hypothermia- warm moist air that is inhaled warms the heart, lungs and brain, it has been used for many years, however i'm not conviced about the products i've seen, the 'little dragon' for instance requires carefull set, it is large and bulky- my product would be simple, easy to opperate and require little to no training. It hopefully would weigh 500g or less and would only be used after other methods of re-warming had been exhuasted.

    Thanks for the replies- some of which highlight some points i need to investigate further.

    Cheers

    Martin


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