What You Need to Know about Hypothermia When Providing Medical Air Transport

When you’re working as a care provider for medical air transport, you come across different kinds of patients. Although you will most often encounter trauma patients, you might even have to conduct search and rescue missions if you’re based at a remote location. That’s when you might come across patients with accidental hypothermia.

Even in other cases when the patient has an underlying condition, there may be chances of hypothermia occurring. It’s important to carefully understand the condition so you can provide necessary pre-hospital care.

Understanding the Causes of Hypothermia

First of all, you should understand that accidental hypothermia can be of two types – primary and secondary. When the body is exposed to a cold environment for extended periods of time, it can result in primary hypothermia. In other words, this type of hypothermia isn’t caused by an underlying condition.

Secondary hypothermia, on the other hand, can occur when the body’s ability to regulate its heat balance is disrupted or there’s a decreased ability to generate or conserve heat. Burn victims, stroke patients, sepsis patients, etc. may be susceptible to hypothermia. Medical air transport providers should also watch out for hypothermia in patients with hypopituitarism, hypothyroidism, hypoadrenalism, or hypoglycaemia.

Substances like sedatives, alcohol, beta-blockers, antipsychotics, and oral antihyperglycemics can also result in conditions that cause secondary hypothermia. Major trauma, tumours, CNS injuries, and infusion or cold fluids could also be other possible causes.

Identifying Hypothermia Symptoms for Medical Air Transport Care Providers

Although it’s a bit of a challenge to recognize hypothermia, you can look for signs like depressed vital signs, speech difficulty, memory problems, mydriasis, behavioral disturbances, etc. You might also notice that patients with hypothermia may fail to shiver even if they’re obviously cold. Their pulse and respiration may also be a bit more difficult to detect although present.

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