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Stick your foot in a bucket of 56-degree water, and in less than a minute, it will start to hurt. If you jump into water that is 56 degrees Fahrenheit, it will suck the breath out of you. Stay in the water for ten minutes, and you’ll be suffering from hypothermia. Bagenholm had been in the water for more than an hour, and she was in the air, in the rescue chopper, for another hour and fourteen minutes. There was only one real glimmer of hope. There’s a saying in medicine that no one is dead until they are warm and dead.

We were giving him doses, megadoses, of Thorazine, Haldol, you name it, and it wasn’t touching him at all. He just kept going. ’ ” Next thing he knew, says Mayer, he was helping more than a dozen doctors and orderlies hold down the unruly patient, while someone else soaked the sheets in ice water and rolled the patient up like a caterpillar in his cocoon. “It was amazing. He immediately calmed down. It worked like nothing else. It was right away. ’ ” Curious, Mayer asked around and learned that cold sheets had been widely used in psychiatric hospitals in the early twentieth century.

Forget about their being in the New England Journal,” he said. ” 21 Somberg, who was a former member of the FDA committee making the decision, went on to compare the two studies to a poorly balanced stack of cards. In the end, his opinion carried the day. Despite the efforts of doctors like Stephan Mayer, hypothermia would not become standard of care. You may be wondering why I include this losing battle of the Ice Doctors. Well, herein lies one of the great challenges of medicine. When does an experimental treatment become a standard tool in the doctor’s bag?

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