Falling Workers: Another Root Cause?

Falling Workers: Another Root Cause?

You may have seen last week when the tower worker was rescued from 260′ in the air due to a heat related illness, or heat exhaustion as the new reports indicated. I offer another point of view and I would put $20 on the fact the climber was dehydrated!

Summer & Heat Dehydration

Brian Bourquin in B......

Dehydration in the summer is caused primarily through perspiration, which throws the electrolyte balance in the blood plasma off very quickly. This results in nausea, cramps, weakness, postural hypotension etc.  A summer climber needs fluid with electrolytes such as a diluted 50% Gatorade mixture to drink at 10 minute intervals. The only disadvantage to 50% diluted Gatorade is the stomach “sees” the nutrients in the solution and immediately passes the fluid on to the small intestine where the absorbtion rate is only 1/3 as fast as if the fluid stayed in the stomach. With pure water the fluid stays in the stomach and is more quickly passed to the blood stream. Once in the blood stream the rehydration progresses next to the cells and finally to the interstitial spaces. The point of mentioning that is that even though a climber feels better after rehydrating from serious dehydration he should wait at least 12 hours to resume any significant work.

Winter Dehydration

Advanced Tower Climbing

People do not realize it, but dehydration occurs in the cold as well. In winter climbs the majority of the fluid loss is through the surface of the lungs which, unlike perspiration, does not upset electrolyte balance and water is a great substitute to drink before, during and after the climb..


Summer or winter, once you have a victim on a tower or on the ground the initial attempts at “fluid resuscitation” should always utilize water at close to body temperature. As with all victims they must be able to hold the fluid container and drink from it themselves, do not attempt to pour it into their mouth as vomiting and aspiration resulting in a delayed bacterial pnuemonia is a likely result and that can easily be fatal without prompt hospitalization. Once the victims symptoms start to improve then if they were in a hot environment you can start with Gatorade at 50% or 100% concentrations.

Future Solution

A couple of instructors at Safety One are working on a heavily modifying insulated 3L Camelback to safely attach to a standard harness. We will announce this when it is “perfected”.
Be safe – And drink up!
Art Seely


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