What dangers is faced by a child like Arian, who has been missing outdoors for a week? From an emergency medical perspective, there are three problems: cold, thirst and hunger. Which of them weighs the heaviest? It takes up to 20 days for someone to starve to death. For children it may happen a little faster, but not in seven days. When it comes to thirst, things are different: the body’s water reserves last for three to five days. However, since water is available everywhere in this country and especially in the forest, the likelihood of such a child dying of thirst is relatively low. You mean the water from puddles, ponds and rivers? Yes, they are sufficient as a water source. It is hoped that the child will recognize and accept these water sources as such. From a purely physical perspective, it is easily possible for the boy to survive a week like that. About a year ago there was a case in the Colombian jungle where four children survived for 40 days.

The main thing is to drink something, even if the water is possibly contaminated? Yes, the main thing is water. We’re talking about puddles, there might be fresh rainwater in them. Or smaller streams that are often found in the forest. What about the problem of cold? In my opinion, hypothermia is the biggest problem. As soon as cold and wet conditions are involved, survival is difficult. Anyone who is wet and hypothermic can freeze to death within a few hours. The boy is walking in socks, which is inconvenient: the ground is cold and he can cool down quickly. But the frost is now over and the temperatures are rising, so it is definitely advisable to continue looking for the boy. What happens to the body when it is hypothermic? A body temperature above 35 degrees is normal. With a body temperature of 32 to 35 degrees, a person is already somewhat restricted. Below 32 degrees it starts to become critical. Blood pressure drops, the heart beats slower, and the body goes into a kind of cold sleep. What is dangerous is the side effect, the so-called cold idiocy, as it is called in medical terminology.

What is this side effect? ​​This is a condition in which those affected feel like they are out of their minds. For example, some people then start to take off their clothes. During hypothermia, the vessels in the extremities contract sharply to protect the organism. The blood is then only transported to the vital organs. In this condition he can no longer help himself and ultimately no longer move. What else can this condition do? It increases the risk of accidents. People in this state may find themselves walking into a river instead of running parallel to the bank. Or that they stumble into a puddle. In these cases we would have the problem of cold and humidity. On Tuesday night the temperatures in Bremervörde were around freezing point. The missing boy is traveling in a sweater. Is it possible to survive a night like that? Yes, it could be that he was still out and about. That he sought protection. That he hid in a bush or protected himself with leaves or branches. He may meet an animal such as a dog that he can warm himself to. This is theoretically possible. Surviving a night like this is possible. If such a child finds protection, it can easily survive for 14 days or longer. Does a child become hypothermic faster than an adult? Yes, because the body proportions are distributed differently and the body is smaller.

What happens when someone freezes to death?You eventually fall asleep.What should you do if you see a child lying in the woods who may be suffering from hypothermia?Do nothing, don’t touch them and call the emergency services! Every rescue team in Germany knows how to deal with this. Why shouldn’t you do anything?The core of the body maintains its temperature for a while, while the extremities and the outer part of the body, we call it the body shell, are cold. If you startle a child like this, the cold blood from the outside can flow into the center of the body due to the body movement and cause cardiac arrest. This is called an afterdrop. And it can lead to death.

What if, as a passer-by, I don’t recognize hypothermia? If the child collapses, be sure to check the vital signs and start resuscitation immediately. Even with an afterdrop you have a very good chance of survival in Germany. In clinics with heart surgery, the affected person can be treated with a heart-lung machine and the body warmed up again. How does this work exactly? The heart-lung machine then takes over the function of the heart, because it will not start beating again for a long time It’s cold. The same thing is sometimes done during open heart surgery. You can’t darn ten socks in strong winds. This has the advantage that it does not consume any energy and cells do not perish so quickly. The cells are thus preserved. The device takes over the circulation – until the heart starts again and the body has a normal temperature again.

How long can a heart stop before it starts beating? There are always cases in which patients have survived with excellent quality of life despite a very long cardiac arrest period of several hours under resuscitation. If a person affected is taken to the hospital within an hour of the afterdrop, and that is a realistic time, then the chances of survival are very good.