Profound Hypothermia May Have Permitted 101-Minute CPR to Succeed on Toddler Who Fell in Icy Creek in Pennsylvania


A Pennsylvania toddler, who had no signs of life for 101 minutes after being found in a creek, is now alive and recovering.

Gardell Martin fell into an icy stream in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, and was swept away by the fast current on March 11, 2015. A neighbor found the 22-month-old nearly a quarter-mile away — caught in a tree branch in rushing water.

Paramedics arrived in minutes and found the toddler unresponsive with no pulse. They began non-stop CPR that continued on scene, in an ambulance, at the local hospital Evangelical Community Hospital, onboard a medical transport helicopter, and in the emergency pediatric wing at Geisinger Medical Center for 101 minutes — that’s one hour and 41 minutes. Gardell’s body temperature was 77 degrees — 21.6 degrees below the normal of 98.6. The medical team at the hospital stopped CPR when Gardell’s heart started to beat on its own Gardell and regained consciousness.

The CPR was immediate and continuous for the some 20 minutes including work at the scene of the near-drowning and the 10-mile transport to Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. One glitch occurred during the treatment. The Geisinger Life Flight Helicopter had not yet arrived to transport Gardell to Janet Weis Children’s Hospital when the Mifflinburg Community Ambulance arrived from the bank of the creek. Gardell had to be transferred from the Mifflinburg Community Ambulance to the Evangelical Community Hospital emergency room, as sort of a plan B. CPR continued with Advanced Life Support in the hospital ER. Then he was transferred back outdoors to the helicopter, which transferred him for the 17-mile trip to Janet Weis Children’s Hospital of Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania.

Profound hypothermia, likely slowed Gardell’s metabolism, so his body’s cells were not as demanding of oxygen as they would have been at a higher temperature. The biochemical pathways that convert to fatal biochemical pathways — when there is no more oxygen available — did not make the deadly conversion. When doctors tested Gardell’s brain function, it was normal.


View Larger Map of Geisinger Life Flight Helicopter Pad.


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