In a previous post, we shared some of our experiences of talking with our local Mountain Rescue team, you can read this here. This time, we wanted to know more about their process for hypothermia prevention in water rescue scenarios.
How important is hypothermia prevention in emergencies?
Extremely important, if not treated it can be fatal in some cases. The team always treats casualties for hypothermia first, whatever the circumstance. This is done by wrapping an emergency blanket around the body as soon as they are out of the water.
What is the hypothermia prevention process?
Hypothermia blankets are kept in the vehicles and emergency kits, and are brought to all rescue situations. Casualties are treated for hypothermia straight away, even on warm days.
Once the causality is out of the water, a hypothermia blanket is wrapped around them straight away. It can take a while for an ambulance to arrive, so hypothermia prevention is so important.
The water rescue division receive extra hypothermia prevention training, and two thirds of the team are trained to casualty medication level too.
Is hypothermia in water rescue more of a concern than other types of rescue?
Hypothermia is considered in all scenarios, and blankets are usually used to prevent hypothermia whilst waiting for further assistance. However, the additional dangers of the cold water make hypothermia more of a concern when rescuing someone from a body of water.
Swimmers often don’t realise how cold water can be, particularly in the middle of a lake or reservoir for example. Cold water can drop a person’s temperature rapidly.
Does a person need to be dried off before a hypothermia blanket is put on?
Its actually better to leave a the persons skin wet, and wrap them in the blanket straight away. This ensures the casualty is not left cold for longer, and the water vapour actually helps to hear up the person inside the blanket more rapidly.
How do you prepare to use hypothermia blankets?
Hypothermia blankets are part of the emergency equipment kept in the vehicles. And are stocked with several to prepare for any situation. The blankets are opened at the vehicle, so that the team do not have to struggle with packets at the waters edge. Avoiding issues with things such as slippy fingers.
In all rescue situations, hypothermia prevention is vital, it can drastically improve the outcome of a casualty. A hypothermia blanket is a simple and convenient solution, they are lightweight, easy to store and carry.
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