Woman found 2 hours after falling outside

Area hospitals say they’ve seen few cases of hypothermia, frostbite

The woman, whose name is not being released due to HIPAA regulations, may have had a medical emergency before pulling her vehicle into a neighbor’s drive in the 3300 block of Buell and getting out into the frigid weather, according to Morgan Twp. Fire Chief J.R. Wood. It is not known how long the woman had been in the elements before the neighbor went outside shortly after 11 p.m. to find out why a running vehicle was in his driveway.

“It could have been two hours or longer,” Wood said, adding the woman’s core temperature was 94 degrees when she was found and she did show signs of frostbite.

Wood said the woman was flown by medical helicopter to University of Cincinnati Hospital where she was admitted. This newspaper was unable to confirm her condition Tuesday, but Wood said here recovery is looking “hopeful.”

“She was lucky,” Wood said.

Despite record-breaking subzero temperatures during the past week, officials at area hospitals say cases like the one in Morgan Twp. have been the exception and not the norm. The Cincinnati region has broken four records for lowest temperatures, including a 130-year-old one, since Feb. 17.

Officials at Fort Hamilton Hospital say they have seen one case of hypothermia and one case of frostbite in the emergency room over the past seven days, and Kettering Medical Center in Dayton also reported one case of hypothermia. Atrium Medical Center in Middletown and Mercy Health-Fairfield both reported no cases of hypothermia or frostbite, but Mercy Health officials say they did have one case of frostbite at the network’s Anderson Hospital in Cincinnati.

Nancy Thickel, site manager at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, said it is hard to given an exact number of cases, but the emergency department has seen volume increase due to vehicular accidents, falls, heart attacks and frostbite, all due to the cold weather.

“It’s safe to say we have seen an increase in volume due to the weather the past couple of weeks,” Thickel said.

Dr. Conal Roche, an emergency medicine physician at West Chester Hospital, said he hasn’t seen any cases of frostbite or hypothermia at the hospital. He said people are pretty aware of how cold it has been and are taking the proper precautions for the most part.

“It’s the people that are not prepared for those temperature, who are not aware of how cold it really is that are vulnerable,” he said.

Roche said some patients have come in with cold feet or other extremities due to being caught outside in the cold unexpectedly.

“We are seeing some people who have been in car wrecks and they were stuck outside when they were not expecting it. They may not have had the right footwear and they get some very cold feet,” Roche said. “If you are getting into your car to drive, be prepared to be outside in the cold. Have gloves and a hat. Don’t just warm up your car and run from your house to your car.”

Dr. Marcus Romanello, chief medical officer at Fort Hamilton Hospital, also urged people to dress appropriately in these frigid conditions.

“Wear layered clothing, a coat, gloves or mittens, and a hat to keep warm,” Romanello said. “Wear insulated, rubber-soled boots and socks to keep your feet warm and dry, and to help you keep your balance when walking on snow or ice.”

Romanello also said people should be alert for signs of hypothermia and frostbite.

“Signs include severe shivering, exhaustion, confusion and dizziness,” he said of hypothermia. “Frostbite generally damages tissues in the extremities. Signs include pain, numbness, white, red and/or yellow patches on the skin, and waxy skin. If left untreated, affected areas may have to be amputated.”

Roche also warned about the dangers of carbon monoxide exposure while using gas-powered heaters in enclosed spaces or trying to stay warm by sitting in your car with it running while inside a garage.

“High levels of carbon monoxide can build up fast,” he said.

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