Beyond Cold Water Bootcamp

Sample Questions And Answers

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As you know, asking questions helps you test the understanding of your students. The following sample questions provided here are not intended to be the ONLY questions you use, but are meant to give you an idea of the kinds of questions you might develop for your own class—or to give you an idea of the kinds of questions your class might ask you!

1.  What are the very first things to remember to do when suddenly immersed in cold water?

  • Keep your head above water. The gasp reflex is automatic, and if your head is underwater, you could take in enough water to drown.

  • Control your breathing. Hyperventilation is a natural reaction to the cold, and you could faint because of it, so you must concentrate on breathing slowly and evenly.

  • Stay calm--don’t panic. Remember, 1-10-1. You have about 10 minutes of useful movement in your arms and legs to make some good decisions, and depending on water temperature and other factors, at least an hour before you risk becoming unconscious due to hypothermia.

2.  Are women more at risk to become hypothermic than men?

•    Generally speaking, men have more body mass than women.  The increased body mass would slow the rate of core temperature loss and therefore the onset of hypothermia.

3.  What’s one simple clue that will help you assess the victim as moderately or severely hypothermic?

  • The absence of shivering. When the core temperature drops below 32°C, shivering stops.

4.  After rescuing a mildly hypothermic victim who is alert and responsive, which of the following liquids would be best to promote re-warming?  (Warm Water, Cold Regular Soft Drink or Alcoholic Drink?)  Why?

  • The best of these choices is the cold regular soft drink.   It provides the caloric energy to fuel shivering which is a very effective means of Thermogenesis. With warm water, the heat that would be generated is insignificant by comparison.  Alcohol should never be given since it thins the blood making it more susceptible to heat loss.  An even better option would be to provide a warm chocolate drink that would provide both warmth and increased caloric input.

5.  What if it’s not possible or practical to remove the victim’s wet clothing?

  • Wrap the victim, wet clothing and all, in a vapour barrier (plastic sheeting or a tarp) to prevent heat loss and prevent the insulating material from getting wet and losing its effectiveness.

6.  Is it a good idea to put a mildly hypothermic victim in a warm shower or tub to help them regain body heat at a more rapid rate?

  • No. Significant surface warming in a tub can cause peripheral vasodilation which will increase blood flow to the periphery. This will cause blood pressure to drop and blood will cool in the periphery and cause the core temperature to drop as well. When someone is standing in a shower, the surface warming effect is not as much as with full immersion but the standing position itself will increase blood flow to the legs, also decreasing core temperature and blood pressure. In any case, the heart has to work harder to maintain blood pressure in this situation, and is more likely to stop as the temperature drops.

7.    This is a rescue situation, so isn’t it important to move quickly to save someone’s life?

  • Actually, not in this case. In cold water immersion rescues, the stress on the heart is the key factor to keep in mind.  That’s why it is far more important to move the victim gently (avoiding any movement of the victim that would cause the heart to work harder), than it is to move the victim quickly. Better to spend a minute or two to ensure that you can extract and transport them gently, than to rush and end up jostling them too much and causing cardiac arrest in the process.

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