Geoff Jones, 52, is swept away in a medium sized soft snow avalanche while skiing in the backcountry. He travels approximately 400 feet and is recovered partially buried. He is awake, alert, and reliable with cervical spine pain and tenderness. He reports a tingling, electric-like pain in his right arm when his neck moves; he cannot distinguish between pinprick pain and light touch on his right hand; and, there is noticeable weakness on his right side when executing the motor exams on his hands. His remaining injuries are compatible with self-evacuation. There is no cell service and no one in the group is carrying bivy equipment with them or on their snowmobiles six miles away. Help is roughly twelve hours away. It's 3:30 pm in mid-January; sunset is within the next hour. The current air temperature is 21º F. Clouds are moving in, the wind is picking up, and it looks like it's going to snow.
Should you keep Geoff quiet and immobile and go for help or begin a self-evacuation? Click here for answers.
Click here to read a blog article on current spine management guidelines.
Don't know where to begin or what to do? Take one of our wilderness medicine courses. Guides and expedition leaders should consider taking our Wilderness First Responder course.
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