If a person has a drunk like appearance, is confused and argumentative then you have to act very quickly and positively. They need to be out of the wind and rain, remove cold clothes next to the skin and put into one or two sleeping bags and if possible fed warm (not hot) sweet drinks. It used to be suggested a fully fit member of the party to get in the bag with them and act as a warming element, however this is now not considered the best policy.
The basic principle is to get shelter, get them dry, put them into one or two sleeping bags, keep them awake, cheer them up, get them to take on board sugar and liquid, and let their own shivering very gradually warm them up back to normal temperature. Of course you and the rest of the party are not going to be much use to them if you stand around getting colder and hypothermic as a result of this medical attention!
Weather conditions and the condition of the patient must decide your next course of action. Emergency rescue or not. So you must consider the best options for all. Either split the group to walk down to call for rescue or put up shelter/tent(s) if you have one, to keep you all and the patient warm, then call for emergency assistance, again splitting the group. (You must know how to call for rescue BEFORE you set out. Mobile phones cannot be relied upon).
If the person passes this stage they are in the danger zone of advanced hypothermia. Do all of the above, but you urgently need emergency rescue and we would advise you to always be aware of where you are, how close you are to assistance, how long it may take to get there and what you have in your rucksack to keep you and your party warm and dry. Bothy/bivvi bag etc.
For your consideration
There are various medical and Mountain Leadership courses run around the UK who can teach and advise how to deal with such emergency situations on the hill correctly. If you feel unsure about what you would do in this situation, we recommend attending. Prevention is better than cure! See any Outdoor Magazine for details.
Disclaimer and safety warning
All the information contained within this website, and associated media is for informational purposes only. The material does not constitute advice and you should not rely on any of the content to make any decision or action which may result in injury to yourself or a third party. In no event do we accept liability of any description, including negligence, for any damages or losses whatsoever resulting from the use of information contained within.
Part 1 - Awareness and Prevention
Part 3 - Bob's True Story of Hypothermia