All it takes is one peek outside the window to confirm that winter has officially arrived. You may have already experienced some of the “joys” of winter weather – the bitter cold air, piles of snow hugging every inch of your car, or the annoying ice-scraping workout that you have to do with your windshield every morning.
With temperatures in the teens, Pocatello, Idaho resident Brittney Edginton didn’t even want to get out of her car when she recently stopped by the gas station for a drink. But, if it hadn’t been for that pit stop, Brittney never would have spotted the scary situation that was about to unfold.
As she drove out of the parking lot, Brittney decided to take a shortcut home, one that she doesn’t usually take. That’s when she noticed a lone figure walking alongside the icy road. Brittney could tell right away that something wasn’t right – it was a feeling in her stomach she couldn’t ignore.
The stranger was slowly hobbling towards the crosswalk with a walker, but what struck Brittney was the lack of warm clothing. When Brittney got a closer look, she could see that this person was actually an elderly woman.
As a nursing assistant, Brittney knows quite a bit about the human body, and she quickly realized that this poor granny would soon succumb to the freezing weather if she didn’t do something. Brittney told the Idaho State Journal:
I saw a little lady on the side of the street not wearing a coat, gloves, hat or any winter clothing. She was pushing her walker on the sidewalk but was getting ready to cross the street and was hitting the ice with her walker. She was pushing on it, but she couldn’t move anywhere.
Brittney rolled down her window and asked the grandmother where she was headed. The elderly lady told Brittney she was going into town, but the woman didn’t know exactly where she wanted to go, or even which street she was currently on.
Brittney wasn’t about to let this grandmother wander around until she turned into an icicle, so she put her in the back of the car and used three different blankets to wrap her up like a burrito.
She was shaking so bad her teeth were chattering. When she couldn’t remember where she lived and could only give me her name and date of birth and I found out she was almost 100-years-old I was like ‘Oh my gosh.’ That’s when I put her in my car and called the police.
When the medics arrived, 99-year-old Elsa Baker’s internal temperature was still below normal. Even though Brittney cranked up the heat for 20 minutes, Elsa’s body heat was only 94 degrees. Imagine how cold she must have been before she got in the car!
The normal average body temperature is 98.6, but mild hypothermia sets in around 96 degrees. This granny was definitely skating on the edge danger. Brittney explained to the Idaho State Journal:
Her skin was bright red, and it looked like she had been out there for a while.
Pocatello Fire Department Assistant Chief of Operations Travis Smith says that even mild hypothermia can cause confusion and loss of coordination. When a person isn’t thinking straight, an otherwise survivable condition can quickly turn into something more serious:
A person will begin to shiver, they probably won’t have a lot of motor coordination and that’s when you really need to get someone into a dry and warm area, and try to get some warming fluids into them.
Smith said that because of her advanced age, Elsa was probably hovering somewhere between moderate and severe hypothermia when Brittney found her.
It’s a good thing that Brittney was compelled to take the road less traveled that fateful morning, or poor Elsa might have never made it home.
Elsa was soon reunited with her worried grandson, who said that his granny had walked away that morning thinking that she was with another person.
Thankfully there are people out there like Brittney who aren’t afraid to brave possible frostbite when offering a helping hand to those who need it the most. What a super sweet gal!