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Altitude sickness suspected in Scout death Utah

hiking altitude

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#1 RememberSchiff

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 05:47 AM

http://www.heraldext...0ad05098e3.html
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#2 Col. Flagg

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 08:17 AM

Very sad. Underscores the need to get as many Scouts and adults trained in WRFA on any trek you take.


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#3 cyclops

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 09:07 AM

Very sad. Underscores the need to get as many Scouts and adults trained in WRFA on any trek you take.

 

This is indeed very sad. What would be the correct way to respond to this out in the wilderness?


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#4 Col. Flagg

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 09:27 AM

This is indeed very sad. What would be the correct way to respond to this out in the wilderness?

 

Good question. High altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) and high altitude cerebral edema HACE are treatable but you have to know the warning signs, be able to differentiate between these and dehydration and be able to evac someone to a lower altitude (around 8,000ft or less). Most WRFA courses go over this, but few actually go over hands-on scenarios on how to respond. We have a local troop that runs a WRFA course and they have 1-2 scenarios you have to go through. Our troop trains on how to respond to these situations prior to sending any crew on high adventure.

 

I won't go in to how to prevent these here, but having well-trained Scouts and adults is key. Second would be knowing how to spot the warning signs and implementing the action plan fast. Lastly, taking time to adjust to altitude -- especially if you are a "Flatlander" like me -- is key. If you have at risk people in your crew, carrying oxygen can really be a life saver.


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#5 MattR

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 12:37 PM

I just went through something similar. It wasn't scouts. We had a new hiker with us that had never been above 11000 ft. He was fine on the drive up. We started hiking at 12800 ft. He just kept feeling worse. At around 13800 he was stopping a lot, which could just be being tired, but he also complained of feeling sick. I tried staying out of it but nobody else would make a decision. I finally said we're all going down because a helicopter ride is really expensive. This guy didn't want to admit he was having troubles. It's when he said he'd feel better if he could just puke that I put my sm hat on and pulled the plug. I think he was relieved that someone else called it.

I took a wilderness first aid course and we have a trauma surgeon that does a lot of high altitude studies in our troop. I got the same message from both. If they can walk, get them down. Don't wait. If they aren't feeling better just sitting around in camp then more time will not help. This guy perked right up once we got down to the highway, around 7000 ft.
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#6 Col. Flagg

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 12:54 PM

We had a kid at Philmont last year as we were hiking the ridge line to the Tooth get heat stoke. Before we even started we required 4 liters per person, dropped backs and went light. Brought ten essentials and made sure everyone was aware of the warning signs of dehydration, heat stroke/exhaustion, HAPE/HACE. Checked literally every 15 mins along our hike.

 

When the kid finally fessed up that he was feeling queasy, he admitted that he had been feeling bad for about an hour or so, with a headache he'd had for two hours. I really could have killed him at that point because we had done a walking health check every 15 mins that morning...what's that 20 times? I wanted to send him off the mountain at that point. We got back to base camp and he revived.

 

He learned a big lesson but his stock fell with his fellow Scouts as a result.


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#7 qwazse

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 09:35 AM

I had two experiences with different people on a family vacation in Rocky Mt. National Park. The first was on a drive back down from Pike's Peak when two of us stopped to look for a geocache, one person felt two sick to come out of the car, and another person stayed with him while he rested.

 

The first person was fine on the second day, but that was within 24 hours of when the second victim arrived. We hiked up to the continental divide (about 12K ft) and being an MD and an avid runner and having grown up hiking the high Sierras, he was starting to panic about how he felt. We were hitting our turn-around time so it made sense just to walk back down and monitor things. It's amazing what a difference less than 2K ft makes! Good thing, too. His 11 yo daughter needed a piggy back out for the last 6 miles!

 

We don't know the details of this story, but I can understand how intimidating it might be to move camp down-slope just before nightfall. If you never experienced seeing someone recover quickly at lower altitude, you might not believe the benefit is worth the risk.


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#8 Eagledad

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 10:40 AM

We don't know the details of this story, but I can understand how intimidating it might be to move camp down-slope just before nightfall. If you never experienced seeing someone recover quickly at lower altitude, you might not believe the benefit is worth the risk.

We also had several example of high altitude sickness, there are many different types. One scouts became ill with High altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) on a Philmont trek. There is quite a story of how the crew got him down and can be found on the internet somewhere. I was not on this crew, but they made stretcher out of their crew equipment and carried him down 6000 feet to an ambulance. It took a full day and their were aided by several other crews along the way. The scout is fine, but the trek identified some heart issues.

 

But the most pronounced clear case of altitude sickness I ever witnessed was with a scout at Camp Alexander which is 8200 ft. This young man was a wonderful scout who enjoyed the program and had a great sense of humor. This kid had been looking so forward to summer camp. But he was so homesick (so we thought) that the camp staff suggested we keep a 24 hour watch on him for his depression. Nothing we did changed this scouts very poor attitude of the camp. It made no sense to us until we were driving home and just as soon as we drove down past 5000 ft. The old bright happy scout came back to us. It was just as qwazse said, if you haven't seen it, you don't quite believe it.

 

That experience occurred early in my scout leader career, so it prepared me for several altitude sickness situations in my future.

 

Barry


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"Experience is the hardest teacher. It gives the test first, then the lesson."


#9 Ankylus

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 03:53 PM

I saw an altitude sickness debacle once and was a part of one once.

 

At Philmont in 2010, we were at French Henry when they brought down an adult leader on a stretcher that backcountry staff said was an altitude sickness problem. Then, before they could get a ranger up to the crew for 2-deep leadership purposes, the crew got lost. So they closed down the program to send the staff out to find them. (That was a bummer because it was our layover day and we had gone to French Henry after climbing Baldy and stopping off at Baldy Town for food. The boys just wanted the program.)

 

Years earlier, on a family backpacking trip pretty much everyone got it. We are not only flatlanders, but lowlanders. We live at about 30' above sea level and drove straight through to Colorado up to Wolf Creek Pass. I got it, but mildly. I got a splitting headache, but only on the approach to, on, and descent from the Continental Divide. 

 

It sneaks up on you. You get a little queasy, maybe a little headache. You don't necessarily associate it with altitude sickness right away. You just feel your a little off, or got a bit of a bug or something.Especially if you haven't experienced it before.

 

My $.02 is if you are at altitude and someone gets queasy AND a headache, you just assume its altitude sickness and react accordingly. This is double if you are from a low area and didn't take time to acclimate.


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