Date Published

May 19, 2023

Updated For

ALS PCS Version ALS PCS Version 5.2


Hello, what are the criteria for identifying hypothermia in a VSA patient? This affects our treatment under ALS PCS 5.1 whether we consider early transport after one analysis. The situation that brought up this discussion was a patient who had been on the floor indoors for a number of days, but still presented with a hypothermic body temperature. If the patient had been found VSA, how would we identify to treat them under the full medical cardiac arrest, or be considered for early transport?


Hypothermia is defined as an involuntary drop in body temperature below 35C. It is further classified into mild (32 to 35C), moderate (28 to 32C) and severe (under 28C). The key to temperature is whether the hypothermia is the suspected cause of the arrest. A patient with a mild hypothermia (32-35C) would typically experience shivering and potentially some cognitive impairment. However, they would not be expected to arrest from this level of hypothermia. The spirit of hypothermic cardiac arrest is specifically aimed at patients who death is caused by environmental exposure (ex €“ lost mountain climber) and not someone who has another cause of arrest and then dies in a cold environment (someone shoveling driveway, has myocardial infarction, has a subsequent cardiac arrest and is found 4 hours later) Only patients suspected of having their arrest caused from hypothermia and should be considered for early transport.



Keywords are not available for this question at this time.

Additional Resources

No additional resources are available for this SWORBHP Tip.