[Avalanche emergency and accidental hypothermia]

P C Strohm, W Köstler, T Hammer, N P Südkamp
Der Unfallchirurg 2003, 106 (4): 343-7
The importance of emergency medical treatment for avalanche victims in the pre-clinical and clinical sector is still real. Based on new investigations, guidelines for triage have been endorsed by the International Commission of the Alpine Rescue Services (ICAR) to reduce secondary deaths following the successful extrication of victims from the avalanche mass. Although hypothermia plays a secondary role in the total mortality of avalanche victims, the most important task if extrication lasts 35 min or more is the professional treatment of hypothermia. Avalanche emergencies in the southern part of the Black Forest are quite rare. In February 2002 one avalanche victim in this region survived despite a statistically bad prognosis. Based on the current literature, we provide an algorithm which conforms with the ICAR guidelines for emergency personnel and describe the possibilities and standard stage dependent treatment in cases of accidental hypothermia.

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