Spring Conference 2015 Big Bear Lake

Outdoor Writers
Association of California

PO Box 975
Lake Elsinore, Ca. 92531
Contact: Yvonne Graham
Email: OWAC.director@gmail.com
Phone: 760-522-3720

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You must always wear a full body harness while in a treestand; not doing so is just plain foolish.  But most hunters are not aware that every year hunters are found dead hanging in their safety harnesses.  If you fall from your treestand and are not able to recover back to a standing position, you can become unconscious in as little as 5 to 30 minutes and death shortly follows unconsciousness.

Studies done at NASA have shown that one of their test subjects passed out in less than 4 minutes, how long do you think you have?  This is due to what is called SUSPENSION TRAUMA, and anyone suspended in a safety harness or strap can be killed very quickly by this.  While suspended in a harness, the weight of your body is pressing on your leg straps and the leg straps then cause a tourniquet effect on the blood returning from your legs back to the heart.  The powerful heart can shove the blood into your legs but the blood can’t get back because of the leg strap pressure on your groin.  This is called BLOOD POOLING, and the legs can hold up to HALF of your total blood volume.  You can lose half of your blood from circulating back to the heart and brain in just a matter of minutes.  It is the SAME AS CUTTING BOTH OF YOUR WRISTS AND LOSING HALF OF YOUR BLOOD. How long do you think you can survive? 

 This is what happens if you fall and cannot recover back to your feet, your total circulating blood volume starts to drop very quickly because it is being pooled in your legs, your blood pressure starts to drop dramatically, your heart senses this and starts beating faster and harder to keep the pressure up, shoving more blood into your legs and causing more blood pooling.  You become short of breath because there is less and less blood to carry oxygen to your brain, you struggle to breath and live.  You become light headed and in just a few short minutes you pass out.  YOU JUST HANG THERE.  Very shortly, you become permanently brain damaged from the lack of oxygen to your brain.  Then when the blood pressure has dropped so low that the heart doesn’t have enough oxygen, it stops beating; you have a heart attack and die.  Your last thoughts will probably be of your family and loved ones.


 In a few hours someone will find you and cut your lifeless body down.  You will have put your family through a horrific ordeal that could have been avoided.  This exact same thing happens EVERY YEAR TO HUNTERS.  You must always wear a full body harness, but you must have a way of escape, the Rescue One CDS harness allows you to do just that.  The Rescue One CDS Harness is the ONLY reusable harness that allows the user to safely lower themselves to the ground.

I have been involved in over 80 cases of severe injury or death of hunters from falling or asphyxiation hanging in trees.

 J. Nigel Ellis, Ph.D.


Licensed Safety Engineer


Please watch http://www.rescueonecds.com  and visit   http://www.mountaineer-sports.com                                         





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Reader Comments (2)

Dr. Ellis,
I'm curious about your statement that "every year hunters are found dead hanging in their safety harnesses." I've researched the subject and found sporadic cases in the climibing and caving literature but not found any cases described of hunters dying this way. I can see the risk but haven't found anything in the medical literature or on the internet. Can you point me to a source for this statement. It is dramatic. Understanding what is happening will be easier if cases can be pooled.

Roger Mortimer, MD


April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoger Mortimer, MD

I agree with Dr. Mortimer and would be very curious to know the source for these statements or further information on these cases of hunter deaths via suspension in safety harnesses. Thanks!

Seth C. Hawkins, MD
Course Director, Carolina Wilderness EMS Externship
Executive Director, Appalachian Center for Wilderness Medicine

September 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSeth C. Hawkins

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