One you shouldn’t miss on: If the car goes in the lake, do you jump in and help the driver out?

Posted by Andy Durham on January 6, 2010 at 1:15 pm under Uncategorized | Comments are off for this article

Here’s a response we received on, “If a car goes off the road and into the lake in this weather, do you jump in and help the driver out of the freezing waters?”……..

At least two readers, Hugh and KC, said they would jump in and make the attempt to help out the driver of the car…..

If you missed this earlier in the week, here is that response and it is a good one……

Well Hugh and KC would both end up dead most likely — as well as the person(s) in the car.

First rule of first responding: If saving the person’s life will clearly endanger your own, you DON’T do it. Now, there are all sorts of caveats that people will bring up in response to this — family member, “cowardice”, etc. — but understand one thing: this is the rule by which EMTs abide. You won’t see a lone EMT jumping into an icy lake to save someone if he or she is the only one around and if he or she is thinking clearly. The only scenario in which the opposite would occur is if the EMT acknowledged to self, “I am quite prepared to die” in this instance”, and the EMT would also likely understand that, given the scenario and conditions (especially if the car was fully submerged), death was a near-certainty for both self and victim. We attach unfair sacrificial warrior status to first responders — they AINT gonna jump in after you unless there is a clear exit strategy.

Second problem — and the reason we’ll be fishing Hugh and KC out of the water. If, in the scenario described, we are talking about water that is near freezing in temperature, during the first 1-3 minutes in the water your body will go into “cold shock”, where all you will do is hyperventilate and flail around basically. If your head goes under ONCE during that time, you most likely will swallow a ton of water and drown on the spot. (If for some reason you ever decide to jump into a near-frozen lake, you’d better understand this.) Even after the initial 1-3 minutes, you still have problems. You’d better be quick about what you do: water takes away body heat at a rate 25 times that of air. You may — repeat MAY — have one opportunity to go under to make the save, but more than likely you will be repelled by the numbing pain within a few seconds. On top of that, the reality is that you have a total of about 8-9 minutes to get yourself out of the water before you become too weak to move.

Interestingly hypothermia, while a quick immobilizer, is a very slow killer — there are many stories of people who have survived up to an hour or more after being in the water with a life preserver on, thus not going under and drowning, or falling through ice and getting their arms above the ice, laid out flat where they will then freeze to the ice, keeping the person’s head above water. Sometimes, even beards have frozen to the ice, keeping someone’s head up.

Posted by WildManStan


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