We love this guy. Dr Gordon Giesbrecht. Professor at the university of Manitoba. He studies human physiology and our responses to extreme environments. He has done some groundbreaking work in cold-stress physiology and prehospital care in hypothermia. He is one the leading authorities on cold water immersion after having conducted hundreds of studies. He also formulated the 1-10-1 rule.

The 1-10-1 rule
Dr Gordon Giesbrecht’s 1-10-1 rule describes the three phases of immersion in cold water. It is based on his studies of hundreds of volunteers including himself. The 1-10-1 stands for the approximate time each phase lasts in ice water .

1 – The Cold Shock response is the first thing that happens after cold water immersion. An initial involuntary deep gasp followed by massive hyperventilation that can be up to a 1000% greater than normal breathing. If the airway is below the waterline at this time, the subject risks drowning. It will last for about one minute.

10 – Cold incapacitation. The victim loses effective use of his fingers, arms and legs. It happens during ten critical minutes. This is where swim failure occurs. If the victim isn’t wearing a lifejacket he will drown.

1 – Hypothermia. If a patients survives the cold shock response and somehow is able to stay afloat with the help of a life jacket, in a lifeboat or reaches dry land then hypothermia is next. In a worst case scenario the victim could succumb to hypothermia within one hour.

Found this graph on the homepage of Dr. Giesbrechts Cold Water Boot Camp. Apparently canadians fall through the ice all the time in spring-time, so they have organised training camps to deal with it.

The above graph shows aproximate times to fatal hypothermia plotted against water temperature. It also shows why it sometimes pays to be fat.

Dr Popsicle
Here is why they call him Dr. Popsicle. It is also why I think he is brilliant. He walks, skis, snowmobiles and what have you into icy cold water to demonstrate various survival techniques. Jackass.

Below he demonstrates the 1-10-1 rule.

By the way. Some fellow bloggers do amazing podcasted interviews. Wouldn’t this guy be cool to have on?

Update June 26th, 2012:
Minh Le Cong of the PHARM-blog picked up the gauntlet and posted an excellent interview with Dr. Popsicle here.

Also, be sure to visit the Cold Water Boot Camp to download videos to use for teaching and understanding surviving cold water immersion.

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6 Responses to DR. POPSICLE AND THE RULE OF 1-10-1

  1. minh le cong says:

    awesome article, thankyou. I will try to interview Mr Freeze..sorry Dr Popsicle, if you answer this question.
    How do Norwegian retrievAl services Administer blood transfusion during transport? What if any warming technique do you use?

  2. Interesting stuff. Builds nicely on the work of Pask in WW2 and his studies on immersion in downed aircrew.

    Pask is also infamous for devleoping the modern MaeWest lifejackets – there is some great footage of him trialling different lifejackets…theset up is amazing – he’s unconscious, having been anaesthetised and then thrown into a pool in the basement of oneof the London teaching hospitals, bobbing around on an anesthetic circuit in the water (mostly underneath!) with a variety of different lifejackets

    Impressive video if you ever get a chance to see it (too big to upload, sorry)

    • K says:

      Hey Tim,
      where do I find that video? Sounds like something I NEED to see.

      Only rarely do we fly patients with ongoing transfusions. Last time I did one of those I was handed a cold box and then transfused the blood cold. I suspect our theatre blood warmers could be used too. I´ll look into it and see if there is some obscure S.O.P. on it.

  3. K says:

    Just found this

    He died young, possibly because of permanent lung injury as consequence of some of the experiments he put himself through.

    I didn´t know about this guy.

  4. Minh Le Cong says:

    thanks K. Have emailed Professor Popsicle with an interview request. Tim, you scare me with the amount of trivia you know.

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