Rulon Gardner (in blue) was wrestling in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, two years after a devastating bout with frostbite.

In relation to his position, Rulon Gardner’s injury was relatively favorable. He could have lost the entire foot—and many individuals would have done so in the same circumstance.

The Olympic gold-medal wrestler survived being stranded on a mountainside for seventeen hours in 2002, as I mentioned Tuesday. His right boot was fastened to his foot by ice. The tissue was gray or white, and it was difficult to the touch, frozen with severe frostbite. Rulon, however, did some things that protected his foot—things anybody in the same situation could do:

1. He remained on the ground. He was confused, yet he didn’t stray. The lack of movement helped to minimize the damage caused by hypothermia. You must treat frozen tissue gently in order to avoid frostbite. There will be no rubbing or walking unless it is absolutely essential for your survival.

2. He didn’t rewarm his feet immediately. It appears that he didn’t make a fire. I’m not suggesting it. A warm fire can keep you alive from hypothermia, but the fact is that you should not rewarm frozen tissue until you are certain there will be no refreezing. If it refreezes, it will certainly die. To protect the area, simply cover it lightly. You should only rewarm if you plan to transport the patient to a medical facility within two hours and can maintain the temperature of the area above freezing for an additional two hours.

3. He was flown to a medical facility. There, he:

  • He was also given first aid for his most pressing life-threatening concern, hypothermia.
  • Rather than being removed, the dead tissue was carefully peeled away to ensure that healthy living tissue had adequate space to thrive.
  • received IV antibiotics.
  • The three recipients had hyperbaric oxygen and other treatments that aid in wound healing.
  • had skin grafts.

As a result, getting to a facility as soon as possible that can provide this is quite important. In the following post, I’ll give you some pointers on how to utilize them if you are unable to go to a clinic.


Photo by Chris Chow on Unsplash

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