Monday, October 10, 2022

When It's Deadly Hot

 October 10, 2022

   On Labor Day I walked out to the end of the driveway to retrieve our garbage container and thought to myself, "Oh, it's pretty toasty out here." As I wheeled the big garbage can back up the driveway to the garage I heard a helicopter go overhead, heading northeast towards the Spurcross Trailhead which is about two miles north of us.

The Spur Cross Trail is just over that rise

in the middle foreground. The trailhead is

on this side of Sugarloaf Butte, at right

   That evening we heard the rumor that a 24-year-old male hiker was overcome by the heat and died on the Spur Cross Hiking Trail. My first thought was of a crazy, brash kid pushing himself up the trail, showing off and then getting in trouble and becoming confused and then heatstroke set in and he died. Still, it seemed unreal.

   Turns out, it was even worse and more than a little tragic. The victim was a 32-year-old male named Evan Dishion, who was a doctor at Barrow's Institute. He and five other hikers got lost on the trail and ran out of water. I'm not sure what they were doing because that trail is very well marked.

   The national news of the tragic death led with the temperature at Sky Harbor being 117 degrees but that is slightly misleading because the airport is at 1,800 feet above sea level and we are about 35 miles north and at 2,200 feet. I would guess the temperature was maybe 110, but still, it was plenty hot.

   And, as it turns out, actually deadly hot.

A Severe Case of Rhabdomyolysis

   It starts with confusion and slurred speech and ends with seizures and loss of consciousnes. Other symptoms are muscle pain, cramping, swelling, weakness, decreased range of motion of the joints, and dark or tea colored urine. Those showing symptoms should stop the activity they’re performing, increase hydration and seek immediate medical care. In severe cases of rhabdomyolysis, hospitalization and aggressive treatment with I.V. fluids is needed to minimize kidney damage.

   All six of the hikers were hospitalized with various symptons. And to think, we were two miles away, walking around in shorts, complaining about the heat and drinking iced tea. Now that's just crazy.

"Recommended first aid measures are sitting or lying down in a cool place and hydrating after the fainting spell has passed."

—CDC guidelines for Heat Stroke

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