Youth Survives Lying In Snowbank 10 Hours In Subzero Temperatures With AM-Storms Rdp Bjt
Dec. 19, 1985
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ A 17-year-old boy who lay in a snowbank for 10 hours in subzero temperatures before being found had arms and legs ''frozen like blocks of ice'' when he was brought to the hospital, a doctor says.
Scott Romfo ''was so cold that some snow in one of his hands didn't thaw,'' said Dr. Pat Lilja, chief of emergency medicine.
''His core body temperature was below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which is as low as our electronic thermometer will go,'' Lilja said Wednesday. ''I've never read in the medical literature of anyone being that cold and living.''
Romfo, who apparently had been drinking heavily before passing out in the snowbank, was listed in serious condition Thursday at North Memorial Medical Center, said nursing supervisor Mary Forman.
When Medina police and North Memorial paramedics found Romfo Saturday, they thought he was dead. Temperatures had plummeted to 13 below zero during the night and had climbed only to about 6 below by the time the boy was found.
But the paramedics detected a weak heartbeat and very slow, shallow breathing, about four times a minute. Normal breathing would be about 16 times a minute.
At the hospital, doctors thawed the boy by connecting him to a heart-lung machine, warming the blood as it passed through the machine.
''We warmed him from the inside out,'' Lilja said.
Lilja said the boy was mentally alert by Sunday and still had his arms, legs and all of his toes and fingers on Wednesday, despite the damage done by the severe cold.
Medina Police Chief Mike Sankey said Romfo had gotten ''severely intoxicated'' at a party Friday night and had been dropped off at a vacant house about a quarter of a mile from his own home.
Sankey said the friends who drove him home did not know where he lived and had dropped him at the house he said was his. They tried to persuade him to go in, but he said he wanted to stay outside a few more minutes, so they left, Sankey said.
Romfo apparently collapsed in the snowbank about midnight and wasn't found until about 10:30 a.m. Saturday, when a former occupant of the house came by to remove some possessions, Sankey said.
The 1985 Guinness Book of World Records says that the lowest body temperature ever recorded in a person who survived was 60.8 degrees Fahrenheit, recorded in two cases in 1951 and 1956. In the second case, the person, a 2-year-old girl, may have had a temperature as low as 59 degrees when she was first found, the book said.