The dangers of frostbite in Colorado

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AURORA, Colo. — The Colorado Springs man who is still recovering at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora after having both his legs amputated due to frostbite is one of about a dozen frostbite patients the hospital sees on a weekly basis.

Nick Noland is an avid climber who went off trail last week after summing Mount Shavano near Salida.

Noland got lost upon his descent and ended up off-trail. As day turned into night and the temperature dipped, Noland started to lose feeling in his feet.

Doctors at UCHealth see between 12-15 frostbite patients per week, including three Thursday night.

In 2018, they treated 58 severe frostbite cases.

Frostbite and the treatment for it are extremely time sensitive. Someone with frostbite needs to get to an emergency room within 24 hours of the affected areas of the body being rewarmed.

“For every hour of delay after you’re rewarmed from those extremities, there’s a 30% increase in the amount of tissue you will lose,” said Anne Wagner, the Burn and Frostbite Center medical director at UCHealth.

Wagner’s best advice: wear extra layers when the temperature gets cold — or better yet, stay indoors.

As for Noland, he’s still recovering at UCHealth and learning to live his life without his legs.

Noland’s family has established a fundraising page while he recovers.

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