We all should put safety first, especially when it comes to ice fishing. Many of us spend money on tools to keep us safe, such as a spud bar, ropes and a Nebulus. But have you ever thought about what you would do after you rescued your buddy from the water? It is a fact that you are just as susceptible to hypothermia above the ice as you are submerged in freezing water. The difference is TIME. Once you self-rescue or rescue another person, time is of the essence. If you follow a few simple steps, the difference could be life or death.
Emergency Medical Services should be contacted immediately when someone falls through the ice. If you attempt multiple rescues and fifteen minutes passes, the rescue personnel could already be at your location, depending on the geographical location of the event. The longer someone is submerged and attempting to get to shore, the higher the mortality rate. Sounds like a no brainer right? Most of the time, there is a huge gap between when the incident happened and when emergency services are activated.
Cold water-shock is often referred to as the body’s response to cold water submersion. Your body often has an increase in breathing, heart rate and anxiety. It only takes your body’s temperature to decrease a few degrees, to be considered moderately hypothermic. The primary goal is to regain warmth by passive techniques. The priority is to re-warm the victim by rescuing them out of the water and removing the wet clothing as soon as it is possible to do so.
There are multiple signs and symptoms of mild hypothermia with the most common being shivering, hyperventilation (fast breathing), lack of coordination, fatigue, increased heart rate (tachycardia) and dizziness. Moderate to severe hypothermia may exhibit slow, shallow breathing, weak pulse, progressive loss of consciousness, confusion and a decrease in shivering.
Once you have safely rescued the victim, be extremely cognizant to eliminate aggressive movement or irritability. Although, we need to act fast and get the patient to help, you could actually cause the victims heart to have serious dysrhythmias. This is referred to as hypothermic induced cardiac irritability, which can have devastating effects on the patient. Slow and steady wins the race. Expedite to get the victim help, but do not vigorously over stimulate or aggressively move the victim.
Activate emergency services
Remove the victim from the water
Move the victim to a warm shelter or vehicle (using caution)
Remove wet clothing
Once the victims wet clothing has been removed place dry blankets or clothing on them
Passively warm the victim
Do not give the victim anything by mouth if he or she is not conscious
Assist emergency services to the victim (every victim should be evaluated by EMS)