Winter Survival Training – $150

Winter Survival Training – $150

Record Snowfall in Buffalo NY

Walking in the Snow

You may have seen the snow in Buffalo NY this past week, up to what appears to be 8′ in some places! The latest report today indicates 8 snow related deaths, 5 of them from heart attacks. Every year as a paramedic in Denver the first heavy snow of the year would bring the early morning calls for heart attack victims, sometimes 3-4 within the city itself. These were typically males in late forties through early 60’s who were in reasonable physical condition. Needless to say none of them expected that the exertion of shoveling snow would be enough to trigger a heart attack!

Heart Attack Triggers

The trigger is the physical exertion required to move any significant amount of snow. Many individuals have a temporary or long term cardiac situation where their hearts ability to keep the cardiac muscle perfused with oxygen is limited. When subjected to sudden exertion the cardiac muscle cannot get enough oxygen to provide the output required by the sudden exertion. This is when a heart attack happens. The key is to recognize the early signs of a heart attack and stop the exertion, go inside where it is warm and CALL 911. Even a mild heart attack can trigger the heart to beat irregularilly (arythmia), don’t make it worse by staying in the cold (which in itself increases the hearts work load). Many patients I have treated, including those who died, explained to me that they were aware of the symptoms but choose to “finish the job”.

Classic Signs of Heart Attack

Remember the classic signs of a heart attack: shortness of breath, feeling of heaviness in chest, nausea, sweating, pain radiating down into the arm or up into your neck and jaw (this last one does not get enough attention). The thing to do is admit your symptoms and deal with them. Get out of the cold, chew an aspirin or let one disolve under your tongue (should be baby aspirin but you won’t have any of that), immediately call 911. If there is an AED nearby have someone bring it to you and stay with you. If your are alone and feel your heart “skipping” beats or you become lightheaded you can put the AED patches on your own chest and turn the AED on while waiting for help (yes this does sound scary but so does sudden ventricular fibrillation and brain death while waiting more than 5 minutes for help to arrive).

Training for Working in the Cold

Remote workers in utilities or telecommunications use snowcats or snowmobiles to access tower sites and often have this issue and are ill prepared. Many are out of shape and an older section of the workforce, at a higher risk for heart attacks. They are also often working at higher elevations where the bloods ability to deliver oxygen to the heart muscle is already impaired.

Winter Survival training can benefit many of these workers.

We are offering a one day lecture course on December 9 for only $150 per student. This can help many remote workers address cold weather related issues, recognize signs of hypothermia, high altitude pulmonary edema and cerebral edema, frostbite and survive until emergency responders arrive.

If you think it can’t happen to you or your company, I am reminded of a story I was told by one of our clients about a decade ago. Using a 1450 Super Imp snowcat to access a remote site, the two man crew was able to drive to within 100′ of where they needed to go, in waist to chest deep snow. The driver of the snowcat attempted to walk the final distance and within 20′ experienced cardiac symptoms. Though conscious he fell to the snow unable to walk further or return to the snow cat. His younger partner was able to call for help and the Sheriff’s Dept tried to dispatch a helicopter. Within a few minutes the heart attack victim experienced cardiac arrest. His partner then “performed” CPR for several hours until a helicopter could arrive to evacuate the victim. Despite valiant efforts of his coworker and many fruitless attempts to start the engine on a search and rescue helicopter, the man perished. He was heavy enough and in deep enough snow that his coworker was not even able to move him back to the warmth of the snowcat. He died in the snow where he fell. He was scheduled to attend the Safety One Training Winter Survival and Snowcat Operator Training course less than 2 weeks later.

Too many people I encounter believe (incorrectly) that they will have some indication that they are a possible victim of a heart attack either through previous medical exams or clear warning symptoms. They often also believe that people who actually die of a heart attack have probably had previous heart attacks. Fatally wrong in both cases. Many heart attack victims have had regular check ups with no indication of cardiac disease. The first heart attack is the most likely to kill you because you heart will not have built up any collateral heart muscle circulation from a previous heart attack!

Don’t let it happen to you or anyone you know. Take this class and have a better and healthier awareness of the dangers involved in cold weather conditions anywhere in the United States. Call us at 1-800-485-7669 or email us at [email protected].

Please – Be careful out there.

Art Seely

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