Winter Park police save man with serious altitude sickness
March 26, 2010
Winter Park/ Fraser Police Chief Glen Trainor reported that two of his officers went above and beyond the call of duty early this month when the National Brotherhood of Skiers was in town.
The department got a call Tuesday, March 2, from the frantic girlfriend of an NBS skier who said she hadn’t heard from her boyfriend in three days, since he arrived in town on Sunday.
Two officers went by to do a wellness check at High Country Haus, knocked on the door without getting an answer, and left, Trainor said.
The girlfriend called again the next day to report that she still hadn’t heard from her boyfriend. This time the officers went by and, instead of just knocking on the door, got the key to the room from the front desk. When they went in the room, they found the man, near death, suffering from a severe case of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), Trainor said.
The man was taken to the hospital in Denver where he was treated.
Trainor said he had not heard anything more about the man’s condition but was told that the man would have died in a few more hours if he hadn’t been discovered.
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“Going into somebody’s room after receiving a call like that from a girlfriend isn’t something we would normally do,” Trainor said. “But the girlfriend was insistent that something was wrong.”
The man’s cell phone was found on the bed right next to him, Trainor added.
Acute Mountain Sickness can afflict any visitor sleeping higher than 6,000 feet. In Colorado, between 15 and 40 percent of visitors sleeping at 8,000 feet or higher get AMS, according to survey results published by the Institute for Altitude Medicine in Telluride (IFAM).
Most people who suffer from altitude sickness travel in one day from low to high altitude. Symptoms usually appear within several hours of travel.
Symptoms of AMS include headache, loss of appetite, nausea, weakness, dizziness, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping.
“AMS feels exactly like a bad hangover,” states the IFAM website.
Drinking plenty of water, ascending slowly, limiting alcohol consumption and avoiding heavy exertion in the first days at high altitude can help reduce its effects.