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Chilliwack Search and Rescue team shows off their new jet boat in 2016.













he sun is finally shining ands with it comes ample opportunity to get outdoors. It also means things are warning up in the mountains, which least to rapid snow melt and rising river levels. Chilliwack Search and Rescue (CSAR)has one of the most accomplished Swift Water Rescue teams in the province and we're always on hand to assist with rescues in our fantastic local rivers and lakes.

As much fun as playing in the water can be it is also one of the most dangerous environments to operate in. This is constantly driven home to us in your intense Swift Water training courses, where even with full dry suits, helmets, Personal Flotation device (PFD), and rescue equipment there are constant challenges and dangers to be aware of and mitigate. None of us would even consider being close to swift water like the Vedder without being full geared up but even for the community as a bare minimum a PFD or life vest is essential.

This time of year are both fast-flowing and very cold梑oth of which makes for a hostile environment if you end up in the water. Don't take them lightly. Be aware of of obstacles and features, be prepared for the activity you are participating in and always play within your limits.

Hypothermia is not a condition to be taken lightly. As much as it抯 easy to assume it can only happen in winter or if you fall into cold water, it can happen in a number of environments and in any season. No matter what the scenario, time is of the essence in getting a hypothermic individual on the path to recovery, so CSAR member Joel (a paramedic with additional team training specific to hypothermia) has put together some 慍old Notes on recognizing, treating and preventing hypothermia.

In wilderness environments, hypothermia results from:

Inadequate protection from the cold
Inadequate food for metabolic fuel to be burned during exercise
Inadequate fluid intake resulting in dehydration

Hypothermia can be divided into mild, moderate, and severe stages:


The person is cold but alert, vigorously shivering and has normal vital signs. Core temperature is 35-32癈.
Their ability to re-warm without an external heat source is good
They have some motor skill impairment. Mental impairment could also occur.
The mnemonic used for mildly hypothermic patients is UMBLES: Fumbles, Stumbles, Tumbles, Mumbles and Grumbles. So, if it walks like an Umbles and talks like an Umbles they have mild hypothermia.


Thermoregulatory responses are slow and disappear. Shivering decreases and eventually stops.
Core temperature is 32-28 癈. At 32癈 shivering will stop. Consciousness is lost at 30癈.


When the core temperature drops below 28癈, individuals will be unable to re-warm themselves without an external heat source.
Rigidity and spontaneous ventricular fibrillation occurs followed with cardiac arrest. In simple terms, they become so cold their heartbeat rhythm is disturbed and may stop.

People who are cold stressed with light shivering are encouraged to walk/run/do light exercise to re-warm themselves. If they are shivering vigorously with the 慤mbles they should be positioned laying flat. Move and touch them as gently as possible, keeping them flat to avoid triggering heart irregularities. Prevent further heat loss by removing them from the environment, removing wet clothing and packaging them to get to the hospital. The packaging, or 慼ypothermia wrap, should have lots of insulation (clothes/blankets) wrapped around the patient and a vapour barrier wrapped around the outside of the insulation.

Some tips to stay warm and dry:

Wear layered clothing do not wear cotton!
Protect exposed skin cover your hands and head
Avoid becoming dehydrated
Eat high energy food
Always making sure that you travel with the 揟en Essentials for backcountry travel.

For more information, visit chilliwacksar.org/hypothermia-basics




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