Stranded in the bitter cold: EMSA paramedics show the dangers to the human body

TULSA - Most people know walking in bitterly cold weather can be dangerous, but what if your car broke down and left you stranded without any heat?

How would your body react? Would you be able to survive?

2NEWS teamed up with EMSA to show the changes that can occur to the human body if someone is left in a vehicle with no heat.

Reporter Brandon Richard agreed to be the test subject.

After having his blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature measured , Brandon sat inside a vehicle with no heater, with EMSA paramedics close by to monitor him.

Within a few minutes, he started feeling changes.

"I'm already starting to feel very, very cold," he said.

After 10 minutes, paramedics checked his vitals.

"His heart rate is starting to drop, which we anticipated," said EMSA paramedic Kathryn Gaulding.

Gaulding said Brandon was holding a bit more carbon dioxide and a little less oxygen in his blood after only a few minutes.

"That again is your body trying to compensate and move everything to the core to keep you warm," said Gaulding.

After 20 minutes, Brandon reported that his mind started to get a little fuzzy as his vitals continued to drop.
After half an hour inside the cold vehicle, his body temperature, which had been normal, dropped to 96.5 degrees.

According to EMSA, moderate hypotermia can set in at 95 to 93 degrees.

Symptoms of hypotermia in adults include shivering/exhaustion, confusion/memory loss, drowsiness and slurred speech, accordng to EMSA.

At that point, Brandon gets out of the car and paramedics cover his body with warm blankets.

"As your temperature started to drop, your heart rate started to drop and your blood pressure started to drop," Gaulding told him.

Gaulding said if those vitals continued to drop in someone, it could eventually damage their heart and could even be fatal.

Paramedics urge everyone to avoid the cold as much as possible.

They say it's also a good idea to dress in layers, wear gloves, and keep blankets and a change of dry socks inside your vehicle at all times.

They also recommend keeping a cellphone and charger in your vehicle.

For more information and tips on how to stay safe in the cold weather, visit the resource center on EMSA's website.

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