Tactical Medicine: Dealing With Weather Exposure in the Field

With some training and preparation, a field medic can prevent serious conditions such as heat stroke and hypothermia.


| January 2013


Learning about in-the-field and tactical medicine could help you save a life. Tactical Medicine (Paladin Press, 2012) can help you learn about preparing for emergency care. In this excerpt, writer and former military medic Ian McDevitt explains temperature-related emergencies, symptoms of hypothermia and other conditions, plus their treatment.    

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More than likely, the most serious problems the tactical medic will face on a regular basis are heat- and cold-related emergencies.

Environmental emergencies are very common during training and while conducting actual operations and have a direct effect on mission success. Therefore the medic must always be aware of the weather and its effect on the team members.

The common point of both heat- and cold-related problems is that they are disease processes. By this I mean that they consist of a logical progression of signs and symptoms that, if recognized, can be reversed by the team medic before they progress to something more serious.

Humans create excess heat through exertion. Heat from muscle activity builds up in the blood, and our body’s core temperature rises. The body’s own preventative measures take over by stimulating the sweat glands and sending blood to the skin to cool off. Problems develop when the body is overloaded or unprepared to deal with the hot environment.





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