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Fundraiser for hypothermia victim sheds light on the dangers of cold temperatures

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Family and friends of a hypothermia victim in Crawford County raise money to help off set his medical expenses.

On January 6th residents found 26 year old Colter Steffens near the back door of a home on west Fourth Street suffering from extreme hypothermia. Saturday the community hosted a pancake feed at the Applebee's restaurant in Pittsburg to help assist the family with his expenses.

Steffens remains in serious condition at KU medical center. Family and friends tell us he is getting better each day, but the journey is far from over

"The more people we could get to help, the more we would earn so we just wanted to donate and help wherever we could" says Pamela Thompson, a friend of Steffens, and organizer of the event.

"Colter has been a good friend of ours...I've been friends with Dalton for a long time, and I just knew there was something that and I wanted to make it happen." says Jill Brinkmeyer, a friend of Steffens, and organizer of the event.

Steffens case of hypothermia and frostbite is rare, but officials warn that it can happen if you are exposed to extreme temperatures.

 "When the paramedics found him his body core temperature was 72 degrees. After 14 days he finally woke up in the hospital, and he doesn't remember anything." Colter's father, John Steffens explains.

The extreme hypothermia and frostbite  Colter Steffens suffered is rare. Cherokee county EMS officials say when body temperature falls below 95, it is considered to be moderate hypothermia, when it falls below 82 degrees it becomes severe with sub-zero temperatures. Hypothermia and frost bite can happen in minutes, that's why if you crash or stall, authorities advise against leaving your vehicle.

"It's really important to not get out of your vehicle if you don't have to because you want to conserve body heat, and you're going to do that better in the vehicle." says Cherokee County EMS Operations Chief, Jason Bolt of Baxter Springs.

Steffens was found outside this house  in sub-zero temperatures, without a coat, and clothing that was frozen to his body. He was also found in the fetal position, which may have been due to hypothermic shock.

"In hypothermic shock, all the blood is going to be coming from your legs and arms and going to your core to keep your core and your brain alive." says Cherokee County EMS Paramedic, Korey Lucian.

"One of the ways you can tell a patient has gone from moderate hypothermia to severe hypothermia is because that they will lose the ability to shiver and generate body heat." Bolt says.

Because of the severe frostbite his skin encountered...Steffens lost his lower legs, along with his right hand. He is maintaining a normal body temperature, and slowly but surely improving.

"He sat in the wheelchair for the first time, he's going thru occupational therapy, soon he's going to go through physical therapy,  and he is progressing tremendously." Steffens says.

Saturday's pancake feed raised $1792.

Additional donations can be dropped off at any Labette Bank branch in his name, Colter Steffens.


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