New Cold Injury Assessment Card

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Volume 28 Number 6

Our friend and advisor, Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht, a.k.a Professor Popsicle, sent us a sample of a project he has been working on: a useful card on assessing a cold patient. The card is being distributed by an organization called (BICO stands for Baby It’s Cold Outside) a group dedicated to better educating rescuers about the identification and treatment of cold injuries.

The site hosts a series of video presentations, interactive videos, and resource materials that can be accessed by anyone who registers. The material on the site is presented as an online course that supported by the government of Canada through their Search and Rescue New Initiative Fund (SAR NIF).

It looks like an excellent resource for anyone involved with Search and Rescue or the practice of Wilderness Medicine.

If you want to see the card that Gordon sent us, check out the Images below.

If you would like to print the card, You can click on either image and then print.



Disclaimer: The content of the Wilderness Medicine Newsletter is not a substitute for formal training or the recommendation of an expert. The authors, editors, and artists are not responsible for inaccuracies.

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Interview with Gordon Giesbrecht, PhD



Gordon Giesbrecht, PhD is a professor of thermophysiology and the Director of the Laboratory for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at the University of Manitoba. He has authored over 100 articles on cold physiology. An excellent speaker and educator, considering the number of times he has been intentionally hypothermic, he also has a great sense of humor. He has been known to refer to the Alaskan Panhandle as “ U.S. occupied British Columbia.”


WMN: Was there an event in your personal life, or education, that sparked your interest in what happens to the human body when it begins to cool below our normal core temperature?

GG: Well, in the late 1970’s and early 80’s I was a wilderness instructor in the Rockies. Mountain climbing, rock climbing, white water canoeing, ski touring and stuff like that, and getting cold, or staying warm I should say, becomes very important when you are pursuing those activities. Then when I returned to Winnipeg to do a Masters at the University of Manitoba I found a physician named Gerry Bristow who was willing to provide medical oversight while we actually made people hypothermic. I didn’t think we would be able to do that and when I found out I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.


WMN: Dr. Hamlet has postulated for years that growing up in a cold weather environment changes how a person reacts to getting cold and their attitude about cold weather. In essence, if you grew up where it gets cold you more aware of the real dangers and less likely to be frightened of the cold. Do you share that assessment?

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A Winter Primer: Cold Injuries Overview

In North America we are in the depths of winter, and, here in the White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, the days are short, the snow is deep, and you dress in layers to stay warm. The winter extremes also tend to make our mountain rescues longer and harder due to the very real impact that the cold has on our patients as well as on the rescuer teams.


This edition of the WMNL is a Winter Primer dedicated to the cold-related injuries brought on by the winter world that some of us have chosen to live in. We will discuss who we are as an animal and our limitations in the cold along with the specific cold-related injuries and their recognition, management, and prevention.




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Non-Freezing Cold Injuries

In the last issue of the this newsletter we bashed the myths

about hypothermia and frostbite and reported on their physiology and the treatment options for the backcountry traveller. Hypothermia and frostbite are the marquee cold weather bad guys and they can be life threatening. In this issue we will explore the supporting cast, another bunch of bad guys who’s goal is to irritate, disable, and disfigure. They don’t get a lot of press because they aren’t typically associated with intense emergencies or dramatic rescues. But these guys are sneaky and dangerous nonetheless and it is important to be able to prevent, recognize, and treat them.

January/February 2005    ISSN-1059-6518    Volume  18 Number 1

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