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Old 05-29-2009, 06:59 PM
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A Basic Guide to Heat Emergencies

As things are heating up at our Airsoft Fields around Ohio its time to talk heat emergencies. Past couple events gave us some overheating issues, and some confusion by others as to what exactly was going on. Iron Maiden and myself have worked to come up with a basic guide to heat emergencies for everyone.

This is a common problem with many players, and something completely preventable. If heat related injuries go unnoticed; permanent damage can and will be done, possibly even leading to death.

It cannot be stressed enough that all players have a basic understanding of what to look for. Summer is just beggining, we have several months ahead of even hotter events than anything this year. Heat Emergencies will always happen, mainly due to people believing that their physical shape will keep them out of trouble, this is never the case.

Lets get started.....


CONTENTS:
1) When to Call an On-Field Medic
2) Prevention - Hydration
3) Prevention - Other Measures
4) Specific Heat Emergencies
.....A. Heat Cramps
.....B. Heat Exhaustion
.....C. Heat Stroke
5) What NOT to do
6) General Treatment



__________________________________________________ _______________


1) WHEN TO CALL AN ON-FIELD MEDIC

There are important situations where an on field medic must be called. Players usually have a hard time deciding whether or not it is a TRUE emergency, or the play should just “walk it off”, here are some obvious situations.

--- Abnormal behavior
Example: Players are getting very grumpy, snapping, forgetful, laughing at things that make no sense, walking up to a tree and ordering Burger King
Remember if this is their normal behavior, ignore it, if not call the medic!

--- Short of breath
Example: Breathing is faster than what you feel is "normal" and they cannot slow down even after rest from exertion

--- Player is no longer sweating when had been previously sweating,
Example: if you have been playing all day and they were as wet as the rest of you, but now suddenly they are bone dry.

--- Player seems to have lost purposeful movement or is very shaky

--- Player is "clammy" defined as a COLD sweat, its almost sticky and skin feels almost like rubber.

--- Player collapses…. Big DUH

--- Player complains of chest pain, or clutches at chest


Originally posted by Iron Maiden


__________________________________________________ ______________



2) PREVENTION - HYDRATION

The single most important thing you can do to prevent heat emergencies is HYDRATE. An individual working in a hot environment can lose up to 1-2 Liters of water an HOUR. The resulting loss of water and other things like sodium reduces the strength of your heart contractions, drops your blood pressure, therefore your not getting enough blood and oxygen to your vital organs. Hydration is the key here.

--- Drink a lot of fluids, not the kind in a can or keg!
****Start drinking WATER...the DAY before
Flood yourself to the point that your bladder is about to splode mode.

This is CRITICAL, drinking water the day before and even hours before the game is even more important than drinking during gameplay. The key to hydration is getting fluids to your body's cells, this process can take up to several hours and hours. If you start hydrating the day of, your already too late, you are just beggining the process.

--- Signs of Dehydration
Nausea, Vomiting, Abdominal Pain
Vision disturbances (Seeing that purple dragon)
Poor skin flexing


__________________________________________________ ______________


3) PREVENTION - OTHER MEASURES

--- Bring plenty of water AND sports drinks.
When you sweat you also sweat off sodium, potassium, and other compounds. If you rehydrate with only water, your sodium and potassium is not replenished, this is the idea behind sports drinks, so bring both.

--- Limit time in the heat. Don’t be afraid to sit out a game or two, find some shade, and have a picnic

--- Dont overdress with unnecessary layers

--- Eat a healthy and large breakfast

--- Ready to go to war for weeks?? Are you the guy that carries 20,000 BBs, 30 magazines, 5 batteries, sleeping bag, stretcher, and RPG?? well drop that useless junk
When its hot, take the time to shed a few pounds of gear, it may not seem like much but it will mean a lot after a days work.

--- You know your limits, dont pass them

--- Dont smoke the day of the event
You need all the oxygen you can get, your cells need oxygen, dont make your body work even harder to get the oxygen it needs because you cant resist a cig for 8 hours, cigs arent cool when your unconcious from them


One thing everyone must realize is that thirst is not an adequate indicator of dehydration, you can be very dehydrated before you even feel thirsty. If you don’t drink enough, you don’t sweat enough, then you don’t cool enough.

Always be on the look out and make sure everyone is sweating, this is normal, something everyone should have even if not much. Somebody NOT sweating is an indicator for heat problems.



__________________________________________________ _______________



4) SPECIFIC HEAT EMERGENCIES

There are three main stages of heat emergencies:
-Heat Cramps
-Heat Exhaustion
-Heat Stroke



A) Heat Cramps
Heat Cramps are caused by overexertion and lack of adequate fluid intake. This is a common issue on the field. Despite common beliefs, it is the beginning stage to heat stroke. Since males typically don’t have menstrual periods, assume cramps are due to the heat.

What to Look for:
- Cramping pain (Fingers, Arms, Legs, Abdomen)
- Weakness & dizziness
- Moist and warm skin
What to do:
- Remove from the hot environment
- Have the patient drink a Sports Drink or water


B) Heat Exhaustion
Heat Exhaustion can rapidly progress into the next step, heat stroke. Like cramps, Heat exhaustion is most commonly caused by overexertion and dehydration.

What to look for:
- Skin will be cool and sweating profusely
- Severe weakness
- Headache, anxiety
- Altered Mental Status, and in some cases unconscious
- Impaired judgment (Ex: Trying to get a date with one of the horses at Springfield)
What to do:
- 9-1-1 depending on the patient’s status
- Remove from the hot environment
- Lay the patient down, elevate the knees
- Have the patient drink a sports drink or water IF they can drink
- Remove some clothing and gently fan them


C) Heat Stroke
Heat Stroke is commonly misinterpreted. Most people confuse Heat Exhaustion with heat stroke. Heatstroke is a true medical emergency. Heat Stroke occurs when the body’s temperature regulatory system is lost, therefore the body can no longer compensate for the heat. If nothing is done quickly the person will deteriorate quickly and death is a very real possibility. What we do now truly decides between life and death.

What to look for:
- UNCONCIOUS
- The patient will stop sweating
- Extremely hot skin
- Severe altered mental status (Less intelligent than a log)
- Deep breathing that becomes shallow
- Possible seizures
- Severe confusion, disorientation ***
What to do:
- 9-1-1
- Remove from the hot environment
- Remove the clothing, cover the patient in towels soaked in tepid water
- Monitor the patient constantly



__________________________________________________ _____________



5) WHAT NOT TO DO

*** DO NOT USE ICE ***

Never use ice to cool down a person, there is several reasons for this, it’s one of the worst things you could possibly do for a heat victim.

When you use ice, you are rapidly cooling the body, the natural body reaction for this is to shiver all throughout the body. Now your increasing the body temperature even more than before, as your body shivers to warm itself.
When you use ice you cool the circulating blood, this cold blood finds its way back to the heart and in turn cools the heart, making it more irritable, this results in heart failure and lethal dysrythmias.

--- Instead of ice, use towels soaked in tepid water, neither hot or cold, this encourages sweating and evaporation to cool the patient (Think “piss warm” temperature)


__________________________________________________ _____________



6) GENERAL TREATMENT

Though each heat emergency differs in it's own way, all take pretty much the same basic steps to correct it. Here are general steps for all heat emergencies.


1) 9-1-1
If necessary, this is based on how the patient looks
If the patient is unconscious, bring on the red lights and diesel fuel!

2) Remove the patient from the heat
DUH! Move them to a shaded area, preferably somewhere with AC

3) Remove clothing if overheated
Trust me.... its never the hott chick

4) If the patient can drink... rehydrate!
Give them sports drinks and water

5) Lay down the patient, elevate the knees

6) Once they feel up to moving again, slowly acclimate them to the heat again
Let them slowly get used to the heat, basically don't throw them out to the lions with a butter knife

7) Reassess and re-evaluate
Closely monitor the patient, especially their mental status



__________________________________________________ _____________



This is a basic guide to Heat Emergencies for all members here on Airsoft Ohio. Iron Maiden and myself believe it is extremely important that all players have a basic understanding on what to look for. We have to look at out for each other, be your brother's keeper.

Remember if you ever are in doubt on whether to call for a field medic, do so. Always trust your gut instinct. If you think something isn’t right, it probably isn’t.

This thread will be constantly updated with new information. If you feel you have anything more to add to the overall effectiveness of this thread please feel free to PM myself or Iron Maiden.

Hopefully this information will be as helpful as Maiden and Myself intended.


_

Last edited by RipTide; 06-25-2009 at 09:21 AM. Reason: Updates
  #2  
Old 03-26-2010, 03:54 PM
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TommyTuba TommyTuba is offline
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Very Good info on here. I have been a paramedic for 17 years...I see this all the time at paintball..it happens...most of the time a certain amount of "machismo" will get in the way and prevent someone from requesting for help. This info was very well organized and presented!!
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Old 05-19-2010, 12:33 AM
pjcarpediem pjcarpediem is offline
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Excellent guide, and I wish more people would pay attention to it. I've seen my fair share of people go down because they wanted to press on. Most don't want a trip to the hospital and a 16 or 18 gauge needle in the arm.
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Old 07-07-2012, 12:29 PM
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With this weather, there has been quite a few requests to bump this thread.
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