The duration of survival without food is greatly influenced by factors such as body weight, genetic variation, other health considerations and, most importantly, the presence or absence of dehydration.
For total starvation in healthy individuals receiving adequate hydration, reliable data on survival are hard to obtain. At the age of 74 and already slight of build, Mahatma Gandhi, the famous nonviolent campaigner for India’s independence, survived 21 days of total starvation while only allowing himself sips of water.
In a 1997 article in the British Medical Journal, Michael Peel, senior medical examiner at the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, cites well-documented studies reporting survivals of other hunger strikers for 28, 36, 38 and 40 days. Most other reports of long-term survival of total starvation, however, have been poorly substantiated. [Editor’s Note: Reports of the 1981 hunger strike by political prisoners against the British presence in Northeast Ireland indicate that 10 individuals died after periods of between 46 and 73 days without food.]
Unlike total starvation, near-total starvation with continued hydration has occurred frequently, both in history and in patients under medical supervision. Survival for many months to years is common in concentration camps and during famines, but the unknown caloric intake during these times makes it impossible to predict survival.
What is evident is that the body can moderate metabolism to conserve energy and that individual survival varies markedly. The body’s ability to alter its metabolism is poorly understood, but it occurs at least in part through changes in thyroid function. This may help explain the evolutionary persistence of genes causing diabetes, which in the past could have allowed individuals to survive periods of starvation by enabling more economical use of energy. To read more click here.
Dr Paul Luckin AM, Medical Consultant, SAR Training Australia will be speaking at the 2016 Australian and New Zealand Search and Rescue Conference (ANZSAR); Land, Sea & Air to be held on 1st June 2016 on ‘Time frames for survival; Medical factors affecting survival in SAR operations‘.
How long a missing person might survive, the Time Frame For Survival (TFFS), is a vital element of the planning and conduct of many SAR operations. The TFFS is a complex matrix of the individual’s physical characteristics, physiology, medical history and condition, and the environmental conditions.
Medical profiling begins with an assessment of the SAR situation; where the misssing person was last seen, when, and the circumstances of their becoming the subject of a SAR operation. One or more possible scenarios are constructed, and a TFFS worked out for each scenario.
Estimation of the TFFS for each scenario depends on physical characteristics such as age, fitness, sex and body mass index; all influence how quickly a missing person would become hypo- or hyperthermic, how long they might remain mobile, how far they might move, and for how long they may be able to assist searchers.
Terrain affects survivability by how much effort and body water is expended in traversing it, the availability of shelter, and presence or absence of drinkable water. Dehydration is often the survival-limiting factor, both on land and for those missing in the marine environment. To read more click here.
The 2016 Australian and New Zealand Search and Rescue Conference (ANZSAR); Land, Sea & Air will be held at the Jupiters Hotel, Gold Coast on the 1 June 2016.
CLICK HERE to view the Conference Program with an impressive line up of keynote speakers and targeted forums it makes this the premier conference to attend in the Oceania region.
To register for the conference CLICK HERE.
Delegates may also wish to attend the 5th Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference will be held at Jupiters Gold Coast, QLD on the 30-31 May 2016.
Special discount rates are being offered to those that wish to attend both Conferences.
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