What It Feels Like to Die from Heat Stroke

shade

Well-known member
@jgaz - Iirc, Myers discussed the possible impact of cold water on drowning victims in Over the Edge, and how the shock of being dunked in the cold Colorado may have led to cardiac arrest in some victims. Did he discuss anything about that during the lecture?

I started thinking about that WRT heat injuries, since the river is the only source of anything cold available to a backpacker in the canyon. I know getting body temp down quickly is important, but was any guidance given against taking a casualty into the river? I'm guessing a safer course would be to continuously pour cold water over them, since it would be easier to control the cooling effect.
 
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jgaz

Adventurer
@shade nothing was ever discussed about cooling someone in the Colorado River. Not that it wouldn’t work, but typically those of us in the PSAR program are patrolling within 2 or 3 miles of the rim on the corridor trails

The ranger that I shadowed during my initial training did speak of laying a heat exhaustion patient in the creek just below Indian Garden as a means of quickly lowering their body temp.

IMO I’d say you are correct in that a full immersion in the river might not be the best course of action.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
From my understanding the Rule of thumb regarding cooling down overheated person is as follows. If they overheated slowly they must be cooled slowly. If they overheated quickly they can be cooled quickly. The best way to slowly cool someone is to place ice packs or cool water in the armpits and groin (possibly neck?). Putting very cold water on large areas of skin can cause the blood vessels to contract forcing hot blood to the brain and internal organs.
 
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shade

Well-known member
Makes sense.

I'm home now, so I'll see if I can find that section in Myers' book. I think it's either in the Drowning or Cardiac sections. I remember thinking it was an interesting premise that would be unique to rivers like the Colorado that start off very cold in the mountains, and stay cold when they reach the desert due to dams.
 

GB_Willys_2014

Well-known member
Myers' book is fascinating, and IMHO should be required reading.

@shade to second @jgaz response, I think that most people will find themselves in trouble far from the Colorado. The main South-North (South Rim) and North -South (North Rim) corridor trails are avenues to/from the Colorado.

For the most part the Colorado is inaccessible from the main parallel trail (The Tonto on the South Rim) which runs in East-West general orientation.

That said, there are some trails that allow for direct access to the Colorado.

I don't know about the effect on the body, but I personally wouldn't venture into anything but very shallow beaches and the like.

I do recall Myers talks about people who step into the shallow waters and are then swept away.

I am also reminded of the tragic story of LouAnn Merrell and Jackson Standefer, swept to their deaths in 2017 while attempting to cross Thunder River, a tributary to the Colorado.

It just so happens that I am planning a hike to the exact same area, and will have to attempt the exact same crossing (twice actually, but I believe the accident happened at the first crossing).


Oops ... Just remembered one more recent example of the hazard of entering the Colorado. Kenneth Recce recently drowned not far from the 2017 accident.

 

shade

Well-known member
Sure. I was thinking about what could be done when near the river or other water. Ribbon Falls can be very cold, for example. I've bathed in the river while on the Escalante Route, but only at shallow beaches with well defined depths, and hard against the shore. Even then, I'll admit to being ready to leap out of the clutches of the Colorado. That book can have quite an impact. :)

In the concluding lessons of Chapter Four: The Killer Colorado, Myers & Ghiglieri make mention of hypothermia induced cardiac issues several times. Older folks that already have compromised fitness were the most susceptible, and alcohol consumption increases the risk. Even older, fit people can be more susceptible due to lower metabolism than youngsters. No surprises there.

Back to helping a heat casualty, pouring water seems better than an all-out immersion.
 
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Pacific Northwest yetti

Expedition Medic
Gentleman,

Correct, refrain from dunking, or immersion. Ice packs to the groin, armpits, neck, and even feet- pouring water will work as well. The water does not even have to be cold, if you go the route of pouring water. As the evaporation will create a cooling effect.

The body is in that condition due to its inability to actively thermoregulate. Ice bath;s, immersion, etc will only worsen the condition, in a body that is already compromised. Regardless of how fast the PT was inflicted with said concern.
 

Pacific Northwest yetti

Expedition Medic
Also, ya'll can pick my brain, continue with questions anytime.

Its good information, and good for me to share my knowledge and experience, review things. We have a medical sub forum that does not get much love, i have been enjoying this one.
 

GB_Willys_2014

Well-known member
Sure. I was thinking about what could be done when near the river or other water. Ribbon Falls can be very cold, for example. I've bathed in the river while on the Escalante Route, but only at shallow beaches with well defined depths, and hard against the shore. Even then, I'll admit to being ready to leap out of the clutches of the Colorado. That book can have quite an impact. :)

In the concluding lessons of Chapter Four: The Killer Colorado, Myers & Ghiglieri make mention of hypothermia induced cardiac issues several times. Older folks that already have compromised fitness were the most susceptible, and alcohol consumption increases the risk. Even older, fit people can be more susceptible due to lower metabolism than youngsters. No surprises there.

Back to helping a heat casualty, pouring water seems better than an all-out immersion.
I know I am OT here, but ... the Escalante Route is such a fantastic hike.

Papago Slide, 2017:

Papago Slide.JPG

Beamer's Cabin, 2016:

IMG_20161018_115501743.jpg

Yup, that's my ugly mug.
 

jgaz

Adventurer
Also, ya'll can pick my brain, continue with questions anytime.

Its good information, and good for me to share my knowledge and experience, review things. We have a medical sub forum that does not get much love, i have been enjoying this one.
@Pacific Northwest yetti Thanks, there is no substitute for current, real world experience IMO.

@GB_Willys_2014 Have a safe trip! I leave Monday for the south rim for my last four PSAR shifts of the season. Doing these with a friend from Kansas. Looking forward to “tag teaming” the trails.
 
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