The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #99243   Message #1976524
Posted By: Muttley
22-Feb-07 - 08:12 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
Actully GRAB we did pick up a bloke who was seen to collapse in a park after having belted his way though a fair amount of highly percentaged spirits and at first - examination for breathing and pulse he was cool to touch (except under the thickest clothes (which can be normal) and appeared to be non-breathing and no detectable pulse in the carotid (the most reliable indicator) after trying for a minute or so and feeling nothing - and knowing the guy had been "out" for about 10 - 12 minutes before we arrived, we were prepared to call in a 'Signal 83' (Patient Dead on Arrival at Scene) when I thought I felt a slight skip under my fingertip as I was raising it.

I grabbed the stethoscope and went for heart sound and heard VERY faint cardio noise so I brushed my fingers lightly across the tips of his eyelashes - no response (he was VERY unconscious if he was indeed alive, I squeezed his earlobe hard - no response (state of consciousness appearing REALLY bad) - next step was to press a fingertip into a neural notch along the inside edge of his eye socket ( it's close to the nose) - no response so this guy was WAYYYY GONE; My last choice was one not used anymore (but REALLY effective) - I rubbed my knuckles (make a fist then half open it again, leaving the fingertips still tucked in) along the ridge where his ribs met the breastbone (sternum) - you can wake up a dead stick with that one, and he GROANED!!! So I REALLY checked ahis BP - VERY VERY low but there (just).
We tubed him and got him to emergency 'tout suite' and he revived - eventually.
But on examination - he appeared to be WELL dead - a good lesson for paramedics NOT to trust the obvious signs and symptoms.

Another case (not involving drunkenness, but DEFINITELY edifying in the need to guard one's tongue) was a suicide at a train station. A guy had announced to a group of people he was gonna jump - - - AND DID. Right into the front of the train.

We arrived and the staff were sying he was dead, another ambulance arrived a few minutes after us to assisit in recovery and my training officer (still not sure if he was power-tripping, callous, insensitive, being a smart-arse or just thought it was a good opportunity to toughen up the 'new boy' and apply the "throw him in at the deep end" school of education.

Anway - he said "get down there and examine the '83'. This meant climbing down off the platform, getting under the train, and crawling past the body parts that had been 'cast off' - no need to elaborate that the "body" was a mess.

I could hear my training officer and the other two 'ambo's' up on the platform talking about the incident with staff and joking in part with some unnecessary comment - Ambo's, doctors and nurses tend to develop a "gallows" or "black" hunour in order to cope with the things they deal with and this "humour" was in audible full swing above me on the platform (the victim had been under the train for about 10 minutes or more by this stage).

As I reached him and went to apply pressure to detect a pulse, the victims eyelids fluttered, he groaned and tried to turn his head toward me - his eyes were half open and his pupils were NOT dilated - he wasn't dead!

I yelled out to the guys above "The victim is still alive". I got the prompt reply of "Bullshit" and yelled it again even louder adding "now move this F*****g TRAIN!"

The train was moved enough to give us access and the guys life finally gave out just as we were preparing to lift him off the tracks.
NEVER took any job for granted after that.

Now: LEENIA wrote: "Sorry to be a rain in the face, but there's one big flaw in the story about the woman dying and being buried alive. If she were alive, she'd stay warm."

Actually not true. Once heart function drops and the brain goes into 'coma' all physiological function is suppressed in order to keep the brain functioning. The heart isn't there to keep YOU alive, it's sole purpose is to pump the blood through the lungs to get oxygen for the brain to use and to transport digested and metabolised glucose for the brain to use for energy. In short - the heart is there to keep the brain alive and by being attached to your brain (well most people are - I've met more than a few who apparently weren't) you as well!
Thus a comatose patient not hooked up to machinery to do these jobs will be systemically cooler by a few degrees. A comatose patient also has little control over their normal endothermic controls and becomes quickly subject to external environmental factors - thus a comatose person outdoors will quickly cool to the point of hypothermic - even an otherwise healthy person will go severely hypothermic in the right conditions:
CASE: 1980 - little old lady in North Melbourne (less than three minutes;' drive from the Royal Melbourne Hospital) fell and broke her hip one morning in late May. The police, alerted by neighbours kicked in the door and found her and called us. she was clad only in a thin cotton nightie, conscious and alert and had been lying on her stone-flagged floor for three days and nights She was dangerously hypothermic. We stabilised the fracture and laid her on our trolley where she promptly went unconscious. In the ambulance I wrapped her and myself in about 3 or 4 blankets to sustain her temperature. She 'surfaced' briefly as we arrived at the hospital; whispered "Thankyou for being here with me" and quietly died. They couldn't revive her.
So any comatose person buried or otherwise interred would NOT remain warm unless the coma reversed.


FOOLESTROUPE wrote: "The body takes a while to cool down - any medicos to say how long?"

I'm not a forensic scientist so I can't give exact figures. However I CAN tell you that surface temperature cools VERY rapidly. So rapidly, in fact that a body can be discerably cold to the touch within 15 minutes to half-an-hour depending on ambient temperature.

The only reliable method to estsblish post-mortum temperature is via the liver. It cools down the slowest of all the organs (the heart, lung and brains are cold well before the liver) at about - and this one is subject to review if I can find the relevant facts - I THINK the liver cools at a rate of about 2-3 degrees an hour post-mortum. Thus sticking a sharp-tipped thermometer into a dead individual's liver is a very accurate method of ascertaining time of death - especially under suspicious circumstances - or circumstances where the death went unobserved.

Funny writing about those old cases of mine were a lot harder than I expected. 27 years down the track and though I can't remember tht old lady's name - I can still see her eyes and the peace in them as she left - - - - and I still wept thinking of her and writing about it.
I guess even I'm human after all.


PS I'll see if I can locate that 'cooling data'