Are you DEF?

Are you DEF?

Increase in Falls – WHY?

Last year saw an increase in falls from height causing fatality.  Many reasons are given, speculation runs rampant. Increased workload, time frame pressures, inadequate training etc. We even posted here not too long ago about sleep deprivation.

Maybe there is an explanation for the increase in falls…

a combination of factors.

Brian Bourquin

DEF: Dehydration, Environment, Fatigue

We are experts here at Safety One in environmental conditions and have taught different aspects of winter survival, desert survival and extreme environmental training for years within our snowcat training division. Along with our ongoing research project into the correlation of cold weather environments on the increasing frequency of climber falls we are finding two other factors that occur frequently in case histories. They all seem to relate.  As you may know our original and ongoing research is focused on the loss of point sensory perception (ie feeling) and muscle strength in a climbers hands when they are in prolonged contact with highly conductive metal tower surfaces at temperatures below 60 degrees.  In addition the research is also concentrating on new confirmed medical research from Europe that the climbers mentation, specifically risk taking, is being negatively affected at core temperatures much warmer than originally thought (possibly as high as 97.4 F).

What is interesting now though is the emergence of two other co-incident factors that seem to relate to many if not most of the recent falls.  These are climber fatigue and dehydration.   Both of these are interesting in that both contribute to the vulnerability of the climber to the effects of cold weather exposure.  In fact dehydration and fatigue are the two greatest known “pre-disposing” physiological factors for the onset of hypothermia (as opposed to pre-existing medical conditions which fall outside the climbers immediate control).  Simply stated a climber who is even mildly dehydrated and/or fatigued will fall victim to hypothermia much sooner than another individual without these factors.  The onset of hypothermia is well documented to result in loss of mentation abilities, specifically the perception of risk!

Those of us compiling and conducting the research at Safety One Training International, Inc would very much appreciate any “case history” based material which would relate to falls and any of these factors.

Be sane, be safe!

Arthur Seely

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