Spo2 / Pulse
Wilderness First aid

An oximeter is a tool that can be used to help support our suspicions of the presented sign and symptoms of the patient.

It is advised to take a wilderness first aid course and read up on the subject matter of hypoxia.

An oximeter/pulse reader is a tool that can be used to help support our suspicions of the presented signs and symptoms of the patient. It is advised to take a wilderness first aid course and read up on the subject matter of hypoxia.

There are limitations to both in terms of wilderness first aid solutions. Both require battery supply which is a limitation in itself.

Smartwatches have become a new relied upon method of monitoring vitals in terms of sports training and the heavy price tag suggests that they will be very reliable. Of course there are many different qualities of smartwatches and thus varying results. So take everything mentioned with a pinch of salt. 

Generally, we can suggest that smartwatches and oximeters take pretty reliable pulse readings, however, oximeters take much more reliable SPo2 levels. 

Anything below 95% could be an indicator of hypoxia – a lack of oxygen perfusing the tissues. 

Limitations with oximeters 

  • Poor peripheral circulation and hypothermia are the most common cause of false low readings
  • Movement – including shivering – and poor placement can also affect the reading.
  • Nail varnish, mud, dirt can present inaccurate readings. Acrylic nails do not appear to interfere. (worth cleaning the site)
  • Bright lights, especially fluorescent lights can affect the readings. 
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning can give a false reading

Summary:

  • Spend a bit when buying oximeters, anything super cheap from amazon will be limiting, any average oximeter from a respected supplier will give results.
  • For the size and price, they are a great addition to a wilderness first aid kit
  • Keep batteries outside the device in a small bag and buy lithium high-quality batteries. (same advice for headtorch)
  • A great way to continually monitor a patient in the field and provide patient reassurance.
  • Many can be used with an app. Generally, I would not waste your time with this in a wilderness setting. It just creates more faff and wastes the battery on your phone which is a super valuable part of the first aid kit.
  • “Treat the patient not the machine” oximeter/smartwatch
  •  

*Smart devices/oximeters can never be relied on and can only be used to support your wilderness first aid training and diagnostic skills of patient vitals, signs, and symptoms

Sources / Additional reading: 

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmc2029240?fbclid=IwAR0RM8iE8B9G0q_zVEckyh2BlbVfAT9MEWpxXKcM6Ey6XgUeAOH9djxxDco

https://www.resmedjournal.com/article/S0954-6111(13)00053-X/fulltext?fbclid=IwAR0P6GQqGnblEqlaVPUBJyiVf-TrsasJX182k2MyfsQrlr5Va61Zw7rIRcA

Vår hovedinstruktør i Førstehjelp er Simon Hansen.

Simon er utdannet gjennom Rescue 3 Europe i England og har
undervist siden 2012. Han underviser WRT-REC, WRT-PRO, SFR og SRT kurs.

Simon er Wilderness First Responder instruktør og disse kursene
kan du ta gjennom hans firma Wilderness First Aid Nordic.
Sin pedagogiske utdannelse har han fra Liverpool John Moores University i England.

Når Simon ikke holder kurs, så styrer han et av Norges største
aktivitetssentre.

Elveredningsinstruktør Simon Hansen

RESCUE 3 NORGE

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