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-alex-
08-27-2012, 09:36 PM
Hey,
I’m looking for some help regarding my Plot and MC.

My MC falls into a rapid-river in forest-y nowheresville USA. She is unable to fight the water and blacks out. Later she is found washed up on the bank by a group of people who then take her back to their ‘camp’ of sorts (think boondocking—off-road RVs and trailers etc). These people are able to give her basic first aid.

What I’m asking is for injuries I can give the MC. Especially water injuries.

I’m looking for ‘realstic’ injuries that would take her a couple of weeks to heal from—without hospital attention. Hypothermia? Concussion? Sprained something? Bruised/cracked Ribs? I think a broken something would take too long to heal…

I’m thinking she could very well have injuries from knocking into rocks etc in the rapid-water, like cuts and scrapes? Would there be any way for people with some medical knowledge to determine if she has any internal injuries with no specialized equipment? (Perhaps I could make one of the group a nurse or a EMT? Evan a Vet?) If so, how would they tell? And would they be able to tell while she was unconscious or would she need to be awake?

Also, what is the longest she could be in the water (and then lie on the bank, out of the water) before being found and survive with no long term ill-effects?

As far as taking in water… I’m sure she’d do that, but… how would that be treated?

If it helps, the time of year would be early-mid summer.

I guess I’m looking for the most possible realistic injuries scenario. In terms of my plot, she’d need to be off her feet for a couple of days (maybe even out of it for a good few hours?), and then perhaps unsteady and weak, and in a little pain for the next couple of weeks until fully healed.

Thanks for any help you can give.

thothguard51
08-27-2012, 10:19 PM
Broken arm, legs, or ribs from crashing into rocks, logs, or other obstacles. She may even had a head injury. Depending on the water quality of the river, she may also develop an infection from any open cuts, typhoid or other diseases as well. She could even come down with pneumonia from taking too much water into her lungs.

Lastly, the majority of people who black out in water drown, unless they have some type of flotation device, die. If you can't fight to keep your head above water, then game, set, match. Semi-conscious would be a better use as she could keep fighting subconsciously until she washed up on a sand bar or shore and then passed out from her struggles and injuries.

Whatever you do, just make it believable by giving the readers a hint that she was injured somehow before she blacked out. Of course this will take more showing than just saying she blacked out and awoke in a camp to people tending to her.

Of course, I hope the people who found her are not zombies...

Snick
08-27-2012, 10:27 PM
WHat the op and the replier said would pretty much cover it. There probably isn't much chance of infection, because most white water is fairly clean, but she could get a different sort of intestinal flora that might be a bother.

jaksen
08-27-2012, 10:45 PM
If she washes up alive, she prob had a life vest on of some kind. She's going to be bloody and bruised, maybe some broken bones.

What I hate is when people (friends, family, acquaintances) go out water skiing, fishing, 'on the boat' and don't wear any sort of life vest. Oh, I can swim, they say. Yeah, my entire family swims; we all swim pretty good, in fact. But what if you hit your head and black out? You can be an Olympics-level swimmer and still drown if you're unconscious.

Sadly, I see this happen every year where I spend the summer. Boy kayaking, drowns, was a good swimmer. Guy falls off a boat drinking a little too much, drowns, was a good swimmer. Woman takes a walk along a pier in a light rain, falls in and drowns, was a good swimmer. (Okay, you prob don't wear a life vest when taking a walk, but stay off a pier when it's raining if you're alone.)

Put a life vest on your character.

Goblynmarket
08-27-2012, 10:57 PM
Having spent some time tumbling down a river (I'm a terrible kayaker but a good floater) there can literally be any type of physical trauma. The biggest hazards to an unconscious floater, and the believability of the scene are:

Death sieves (that's really what Ive heard them as) basically the current pushes through a natural strainer (think log jam). The current will flow through the sieve and push the body under water, getting it tangled. These are pretty common is some types of rivers, narrow, fast as well as places with steep banks or walls. Like a canyon. If an unconscious, or even semi-conscious person washed into one it is highly unlikely they would ever get out. In my experience, it took two grown men and a rope harness to get me out, and that was a slow river.

Eddys, (eddies ?) would also be a problem. Any obstruction in a river, from a bridge pylon to a spit of land out from the banks, creates behind it a pool of water that flows in reverse as regards to downstream. What that creates is an eddy line where upstream and downstream meet. Any thing that floats into an eddy, will get swirled about until it hits the eddy line, then bounces back. So an unconscious person would be stuck in the eddy. This happens in even slow rivers, but is really pronounced in fast water.

There are others, undercut walls, sand bars, all sorts of things, that would catch and hold an unconscious victim until cold or drowning got them.

Cold makes hypothermia, cold and wet makes hypothermia that comes on fast and is all but impossible to remedy while still wearing wet clothes. Rapid-y rivers in my expirence are cold rivers. You can't lay around wet and cold on river bank for very long.

A situation that is terrifying for river rescue is known as foot entrapment, and is crazy common for non boaters. the scenario is someone stand up in the river and tries to walk down stream. Somewhere on the bottom is a rock angled up stream. Theie foot gets wedged under the rock and trapped. The water, ( flowing downstream ) pushes the against the body and forces them under water. Force continues to be applied by the water and the foot gets wedged deeper, hence entrapment. It can happen in relatively shallow water too. My wilderness first responder trainer was on a boating trip when this happened. It didn't end well.

Anyway, if the people that find your victim are proficient outdoorfolk they could see your victim wash ( semi conscious) down river, she stands up, the good samiritans observe the foot entrapment and figure out some clever way to save her ( it was a her right) that would give you some non specific physical trauma, bumps, cuts and bruised bones, hypothermia, as well as some painful ankle and fut injuries.

Variable leves for consciousness for about eight hours, bedridden for twoish days and a limp until some one figures out how to comfortably set all those little bones in the foot.

Hope this helps.

P.S. oops just realized how long this was.

frimble3
08-27-2012, 11:00 PM
When you say 'without hospital attention' you mean without being kept in a hospital, right? Not that these random people didn't call for medical assistance for a person who was unconscious, banged and scraped up, possibly with unidentifed internal injuries, and possibly with brain injury?
Unless they were some kind of crazy, or criminals, I can't see why they wouldn't automatically send someone for help.

Goblynmarket
08-27-2012, 11:08 PM
If you find someone hurt in the wilderness it takes a lot more than just calling 911.
There is no guarantee that you have a way to call them.
There is no guarantee that you can tell anyone exactly where you are.
There is no way of knowing how long it would take for help to arrive.

Moving someone very badly injured from back-country to front-country medical care (hospital) can be as dangerous for the would be rescuers as the victim.

A alot of time it's just do the best you can with what you have.

Maryn
08-27-2012, 11:20 PM
FWIW, there are lots of places where we have hiked--and we're half-a-day please-let-the-trail-be-flat hikers, not rugged back-country people--where there is no cell or satellite reception. Lots of people think such places are rare or hard to find, but without looking we've identified vast parts of downeast Maine and the Adirondacks which are completely lacking in outside communication. You need help? You have to find a land-line phone or someone to go for help, and while you wait, you do the best you can with injuries.

Maryn, fan of civilization

Goblynmarket
08-27-2012, 11:49 PM
Never really considered this, my exp. deals with Trauma and evacuation not hospital care, but a common longer term effect of near drowning is pneumonia from water in the lungs that had bacteria or other microbes in it. That would take some time to clear up.

jclarkdawe
08-28-2012, 12:23 AM
Hey,
I’m looking for some help regarding my Plot and MC.

My MC falls into a rapid-river in forest-y nowheresville USA. Nowheresville needs to be defined by distance to hospital. This includes hike out time by rescuers. Scenario varies a lot depending upon how much time we're talking about here. She is unable to fight the water and blacks out. As stated, if so, she's dead. None of the floatation devices for river use will keep your mouth out of the water. Later she is found washed up on the bank by a group of people who then take her back to their ‘camp’ of sorts (think boondocking—off-road RVs and trailers etc). Off-road RVs and trailers isn't very off-road. It would be unlikely that these types of people are more then a few hours away from help, except for in a very few places out West. These people are able to give her basic first aid. First aid starts with don't move the patient. You stabilize the patient, maintain airway, treat injuries, stabilize fractures. Until the patient is able to give you a very good feel as to whether there is any likelihood of a spinal injury you do not move the patient.

What I’m asking is for injuries I can give the MC. Especially water injuries. Cuts, bruises, broken bones, whatever you want. Water injuries will probably be cleaner then normal. Blood loss can be reduced because of constriction from cold.

I’m looking for ‘realstic’ injuries that would take her a couple of weeks to heal from—without hospital attention. Just the bruising from the rolling will leave her sore for at least a week. Hypothermia? Yep, but it doesn't take long to recover from. Concussion? Probably either kills her, or heals fairly quickly on its own. Other then headaches, probably no other signs or symptoms. If she's throwing up from the concussion, her chances of surviving aren't too high. Sprained something? Probably. Bruised/cracked Ribs? Yep. Cracked ribs would last about two to four weeks. I think a broken something would take too long to heal… Probably.

I’m thinking she could very well have injuries from knocking into rocks etc in the rapid-water, like cuts and scrapes? Yep. The rocks would slice like a knife. Would there be any way for people with some medical knowledge to determine if she has any internal injuries with no specialized equipment? Internal bleeding could be seen by a blackening in the area. However, in that case, it's likely to be fatal. (Perhaps I could make one of the group a nurse or a EMT? Evan a Vet?) If so, how would they tell? Raccoon eyes and fluid from the ears, bruising behind the ears, indicate head trauma. Broken bones can be told from deformities. And would they be able to tell while she was unconscious or would she need to be awake? Depends. You can tell a lot from an unconscious patient, but usually it isn't going to be good news.

Also, what is the longest she could be in the water (and then lie on the bank, out of the water) before being found and survive with no long term ill-effects? Temperature dependent.

As far as taking in water… I’m sure she’d do that, but… how would that be treated? CPR, mouth-to-mouth breathing, coughing. Long term is antibiotics.

If it helps, the time of year would be early-mid summer.

I guess I’m looking for the most possible realistic injuries scenario. In terms of my plot, she’d need to be off her feet for a couple of days (maybe even out of it for a good few hours?), and then perhaps unsteady and weak, and in a little pain for the next couple of weeks until fully healed. Massive bruising, black and blue all over would do it. Imagine rolling down the highway from a car speeding 70 mph. Nothing broken, just bruised.

Thanks for any help you can give.

Rather then partially drowning, I'd have her ram into a rock or have a log ram into her in her chest area. Knock out her breath, crack some ribs. Lack of air would cause confusion (very temporary). Short time in the water. Massive bruising, black and blue, very painful, would cause discomfort for a couple of weeks, especially with no grunt candy (aspirin, Tylenol, whatever).

Probably a couple of days without much movement, then gradual process back to full health. Reasonable not to attempt to contact help. Treatment would consist of monitoring breathing for the first few days.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

-alex-
08-28-2012, 01:45 AM
Wow! Thanks guys! Very helpful, much appreciated.

I should have made this clear in my OP, she’s not boating or doing any other water sports (so no life jacket), she’s hiking and hunting (not alone, she gets separated from the group) and falls into the river.

If I have any further questions, I’ll post.

Thanks again!

Goblynmarket
08-28-2012, 02:10 AM
Its suprising how often hikers suddenly become swimmers. I excel at it.

Back packs can be really strange to swim in. Depending on how they are back and style they could drag you under or float you like a life jacket.

frimble3
08-28-2012, 05:44 AM
Sorry, the mention in the OP of trailers and RVs gave me the wrong impression, and I jumped to the wrong conclusions.

GeorgeK
08-28-2012, 04:22 PM
If you raft on the Ocoee River in Tennessee and raft below the dam, they turn the river off at night. It's a hydroelectric dam and they close the locks in the evening to build up enough water over the night to turn the turbines during the day. At least that's how it was when I ran the rapids like 30 years ago. Your character could be unconscious and pinned in a whirlpool until the water drops and wake up in a creek. If she was with a rafting company they'd be looking for her. If she was kayaking or rafting alone then there might not be anyone looking for her.

debirlfan
08-30-2012, 09:24 AM
Just a note as to cell phones - you don't have to be far from civilization to not be able to connect. I live near the Long Island Sound in CT - most cell phones won't work here. Have heard various reasons why (too much ledge, lousy tower coverage, etc - personally I suspect it's got something to do with the Navy base, but.....)

blacbird
08-30-2012, 10:44 AM
Death sieves (that's really what Ive heard them as) basically the current pushes through a natural strainer (think log jam). The current will flow through the sieve and push the body under water, getting it tangled. These are pretty common is some types of rivers, narrow, fast as well as places with steep banks or walls. Like a canyon.

Two women, tourists from Montana, drowned in just such an event a couple of weeks ago in the Eagle River, 10 miles north of Anchorage, and just a short distance from where it flows under the main highway to the big suburban community of Eagle River. This river is fed by a glacier a short distance upstream, and has Class-5 rapids not far from town. It is always just above freezing, even in midsummer, and the silent killer hypothermia is in full bloom. About ten years ago an experienced kayaker drowned in a similar incident here. The two women who drowned were trying to canoe, not kayak, down the river, and their craft capsized. They were wearing life jackets. Didn't matter. They got trapped, and died. Running water is far more powerful than human strength, and often badly underestimated by the inexperienced.

caw