Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Heat Stroke Victim Rescued on Old Rag Mountain

NPS Digest is reporting this morning that a hiker had to be rescued from the backcountry of Shenandoah National Park a couple of weeks ago.

On July 7th, park PSAR (preventive search and rescue) staff received a report of a 24-year-old hiker in distress on the Saddle Trail portion of the popular Old Rag Mountain circuit. Arriving EMS personnel found that she was unconscious and showing signs of the latter stages of heat stroke and that she needed rapid extrication from the backcountry. Temperatures in the park at the time were in the upper 90’s with high humidity, which both exacerbated the woman’s illness and hindered rescue efforts.

Old Rag is a challenging hike, particularly on a hot day with the rock scramble portion of the hike offering little shade during the midday heat. The evacuation via wheeled litter took over two hours, during which EMS staff provided constant care. The woman was flown to the University of Virginia Medical Center, where she’s expected to recover fully.

Hiking in the Smokies

1 comment:

Jack McCarron said...

Hey Jeff - Here's some info for your readers about heat stroke.

Hot, dry skin is a typical sign of hyperthermia. The skin may become red and hot as blood vessels dilate in an attempt to increase heat dissipation, sometimes leading to swollen lips. An inability to cool the body through perspiration causes the skin to feel dry.

Other signs and symptoms vary depending on the cause. The dehydration associated with heat stroke can produce nausea, vomiting, headaches, and low blood pressure. This can lead to fainting or dizziness, especially if the person stands suddenly.

In the case of severe heat stroke, the person may become confused or hostile, and may seem intoxicated. Heart rate and respiration rate will increase (tachycardia and tachypnea) as blood pressure drops and the heart attempts to supply enough oxygen to the body. The decrease in blood pressure can then cause blood vessels to contract, resulting in a pale or bluish skin color in advanced cases of heat stroke. Some people, especially young children, may have seizures. Eventually, as body organs begin to fail, unconsciousness and death will result

Heat stroke is due to an environmental exposure to heat, resulting in an abnormally high body temperature.[8] In severe cases, temperatures can exceed 40 °C (104 °F). Heat stroke may be non-exertional (classic) or exertional, depending on whether the person has been exercising in the heat. Significant physical exertion on a very hot day can generate heat beyond a healthy body's ability to cool itself, because the heat and humidity of the environment reduce the efficiency of the body's normal cooling mechanisms. Other factors, such as drinking too little water, drinking alcohol or lack of air conditioning, can exacerbate the condition.

Mild hyperthemia caused by exertion on a hot day might be adequately treated through self-care measures, such as drinking water and resting in a cool place. Hyperthermia that results from drug exposures is frequently treated by cessation of that drug, and occasionally by other drugs to counteract them. Fever-reducing drugs such as paracetamol and aspirin have no value in treating hyperthermia.[8]

Passive cooling techniques, such as resting in a cool, shady area and removing clothing can be applied immediately. Active cooling methods, such as sponging the head, neck, and trunk with cool water, remove heat from the body and thereby speed the body's return to normal temperatures.

Sitting in tepid or cool water (immersion method) can remove a significant amount of heat in a relatively short period of time.

Source: From Wikipedia, licensed under CC-BY-SA

Jack McCarron
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