The chill factor in Mississippi


Hypothermia in Mississippi? Really? Yes, not only does it happen, but it can be deadly if not treated quickly and appropriately.

Hypothermia is a condition that occurs when the body loses heat faster than heat can be produced. Generally speaking it is when your body temperature drops below 95 degrees. While most hypothermia does occur in the winter due to exposure from the outdoor cold elements, for some like the elderly, it can simply be exposure to a cold room, or someone who falls outside, regardless of age, and cannot get help and eventually spends even a fall night outside in Mississippi. Some trauma patients, who have lost massive amounts of blood, can get hypothermic very quickly.

As hypothermia progresses, your vital organs begin to shut down. Anyone is at risk and if the symptoms are not recognized and treated appropriately it can have devastating consequences.

The symptoms of hypothermia include feeling cold and shivering, which may be followed by difficulty thinking, confusion, clumsiness, exhaustion and ultimately unconsciousness. You will become pale and develop a blue tinge in your lips, fingers and toes.

The treatment for hypothermia involves warming the victim. Treatment should start with removing all wet clothing and if no trauma is suspected, remove the victim from the cold environment. If you suspect they have fallen or may be injured and should not be moved, place blankets over victim until help arrives. Ultimately, treatment of hypothermic victim is considered a medical emergency and warming the central portion of the body should be the most important focus. This can be accomplished in the emergency room by warming IV fluids and blood products if needed.

Recently the Winston Medical Center Ladies Auxiliary purchased the Thermal Angel Blood and IV Fluid Warmer for use at the hospital. The Thermal Angel is an in-line battery –powered, disposable, lightweight and completely portable means of warming IV fluids and blood products for the patients experiencing hypothermia. This top of the line product was chosen for its many features such as: it’s ability to warm fluid near the infusion site, it’s compatibility with any type of IV tubing, it is battery operated and can be used during an emergency transport to another facility, it is disposable preventing possible cross contamination between uses, it is very easily set up and can be in use quickly. Because it is disposable and is not just one machine that can be used on one patient at a time, it allows us to treat multiple patients concurrently if needed.

Thanks to our volunteer’s compassionate efforts and dedication, the emergency room at Winston Medical Center is equipped with state of the art treatment for hypothermia. This is just one of the many things we are doing at Winston Medical Center to provide our patients with high quality emergency care, quickly and safely.