Hypothermia is always a risk factor for the injured. As many as 50 percent of trauma patients transported by EMS are hypothermic by the time they reach the hospital, according to some reports. Hypothermic trauma patients are less likely to survive their injuries, when compared to similar patients who are normothermic.
In trauma, hypothermia begins when the body's core temperature dips below 36° Celsius (96.8° Fahrenheit). Temperatures between 36 and 34 are considered mild; 34-32, moderate; and less than 32°C (89.6°F) is considered severe. If the patient begins to shiver, it means that hypothermia has begun to occur. Controlling a patient's body temperature may be as critical as maintaining perfusion pressure in a critically injured patient. During extended extrication, emergency blankets can be very effective in retaining body heat. They are light weight, inexpensive, easy to store in a jump kit, and can save a life. Simple techniques and materials let EMS providers respond effectively to signs of the onset of hypothermia. We are pleased to offer some of those materials in this section, including: