When Brittney Edginton drove by an elderly woman crossing the street, the senior’s appearance struck her as rather unusual. Then, after speaking to her, Edginton received an unexpected reply – one that in fact led the passerby to immediately come to the woman’s aid.
Edginton encountered the wanderer near Pocatello, Idaho, where she lives with her husband, Timothy, and six children. And when she’s not with her family, Edginton works as a certified nursing assistant, performing in-home care in the local area.
Now on December 22, 2017, a series of events led to Edginton making an alarming discovery. At about 7:30 a.m. that day, she had stopped at a convenience store to pick up a beverage. And after that, the medical professional had crossed the parking lot and headed home on a route that led her onto a street in the neighboring city of Chubbuck.
It was on this street that Edginton spotted something odd: 99-year-old Elsa Baker out in the cold, dressed without any concession to the weather. The mom would later tell the Idaho State Journal, “I saw a little lady on the side of the street not wearing a coat, gloves, hat or any winter clothing.”
Edginton continued, “She was pushing her walker on the sidewalk but was getting ready to cross the street and was hitting the ice with her walker. She was pushing on it, but she couldn’t move anywhere.” And, perhaps concerned by Baker’s lack of winter attire and struggle to move by herself, the passerby decided to intervene.
So, after pulling up near Baker, Edginton rolled down one of her car windows and asked the other woman where she was heading. Baker then replied that her destination was Pocatello – a response that initially baffled the driver.
Edginton explained to Baker that she was actually already in Pocatello; yet the senior responded by saying that she was trying to get into town. Adding further worry, though, Baker couldn’t recall her ultimate destination. Indeed, she wasn’t even able to recall the name of the street on which she was presently traveling.
Edginton added to the Idaho State Journal, “[Baker] was confused. She was shaking so bad [that] her teeth were chattering. When she couldn’t remember where she lived and could only give me her name and date of birth, and I found out she was almost 100 years old, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ That’s when I put her in my car and called the police.”
Then, after Baker had entered her van, Edginton covered her in three blankets. She also turned the heating in the vehicle to high in an attempt to warm the elderly woman up. But when first responders appeared at the scene, it was discovered that Baker was still alarmingly cold.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the normal temperature of the human body is 98.6 °F; hypothermia starts to set in, however, when that level plummets to under 95 °F. And despite Edginton’s efforts to stop Baker from freezing, the 99-year-old’s temperature had dropped to a frighteningly low 94 °F.
Pocatello Fire Department’s Travis Smith would later tell the Idaho State Journal how others can identify suspected victims of hypothermia. He revealed, “A person will begin to shiver, [and] they probably won’t have a lot of motor coordination. And that’s when you really need to get someone into a dry and warm area and try to get some warming fluids into them.”
Smith added, “In the wintertime, there is cool – oftentimes moist – air and moderate to high winds in Idaho. If we don’t have some type of barrier from the elements, then our warm heat is stripped away from our body much faster.” For this reason, Smith urges people to call 911 if they spot any seniors out during winter without suitable clothing to keep them warm.
As Smith also explained to the newspaper, “We want to intervene because we can bring things to the table that ordinary citizens cannot. Somebody may be combative and may not want medical attention because the hypothermia has induced an altered mental status, but those should be clues that the person needs more significant medical care.”
The bottom line is that the emergency services are better equipped to attend to those who need serious medical attention. For example, in cases of hypothermia, Smith noted, “Overall, we would want to be notified early on in the process because we have things like a big box that we crank the heat up on before we leave the station. We also have heat pads and warming IV fluids that we can use to warm patients – both externally and internally.”
But there are still actions that the wider public can take to help those at risk of hypothermia. Indeed, Edginton’s own quick thinking could just have saved a life. As the mom told the Idaho State Journal, “[Baker’s] skin was bright red, and it looked like she had been out there for a while. Emergency responders told me that if I wouldn’t have stopped she could have easily died.”
The nursing assistant went on, “It’s weird, because I normally don’t stop at the gas station. But when I saw [Baker], I thought of my grandma or my mom – and I hope someone would stop if it were one of them.” So, Baker was lucky that Edginton had strayed from her usual routine and route home that day.
Fortunately, too, law enforcement officers were eventually able to find out Baker’s address. And Edginton subsequently took the nonagenarian there and returned her to grandson Rob Mowry. It turned out, though, that Baker had gotten locked out of her home, which may have been why she had begun to wander.
Apparently, Mowry later revealed, his grandmother had started off on her journey believing that she was accompanied by another individual. She had also been intending to pay a nearby friend a visit. Thankfully, however, Baker hadn’t strayed very far from home – “only about 200 yards away from the house,” Mowry added.
Fortunately, moreover, Baker’s tale ends happily. You see, after Edginton’s intervention and medical attention from the emergency services, she was able to return to her family relatively healthy and safe at last, with Mowry going on to reveal that his grandma “seem[ed] to be doing fine now.”
Sadly, though, this is not the case for every victim of hypothermia. So, if you suspect that someone out in the cold weather needs help, act quickly and call 911. Then, as the Mayo Clinic suggests, “While you wait for emergency help to arrive, gently move the person inside if possible [and] carefully remove his or her wet clothing, replacing it with warm, dry coats or blankets.” As Edginton has demonstrated, those actions could very well spell the difference between life and death.