Charles Joughin Hypothermia Survival


Dec 2, 2000
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Eloise, I doubt you'll be hearing from Thomas anytime soon as his profile indicates he hasn't logged in since 2006.

I think you'll find that the survival times in all the official pulications and the like are averages, not iron clad absolutes. There are a lot of differing factors at work which determine how long a given person could survive. In the instance of the people on the Titanic who were in contact with the water, survival tended to depend on how quickly they got out of it because they would lose body heat a lot faster in the water then they would in the air.

As to the article from Readers Digest cited above, I regard that story with a massive amount of skepticism. I wouldn't go so far as to call it impossible...exceptional cases exist...but Readers Digest has a habit of publishing material as fact without always checking to see if it is. An example would be the condensed version of Colin Simpson's book on the Lusitania which is notorious among Lusitania researchers for it's errors in fact.

Just a little something to for everybody to think about there.
 

Eloise Aston

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Feb 24, 2009
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Yes, I saw that but thought I'd ask anyway in case someone else replied - as you did!
I know the times are averages, but the average one Thomas gave was higher than all the others I've seen. I can believe that there might just be one or two exceptional cases where someone does survive 1h 20 mins or more, but as an average it just seemed too long. Joughin's time, especially with adjustments as suggested in this thread, would be more believable with that average, but much less so if you took the 45 minute figure, which in the tables I've seen is supposed in any case to be calculated for water 35 F - this was about 7 degrees colder!
I'm not an expert on this by any means, but my information is based on air/sea rescue websites on hypothermia which I'm assuming are reliable.

Interesting article I was directed to here:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126962 .200-superhuman-the-secrets-of-the-ice-man.html

This guy has really pushed the envelope, but he trains, especially before he goes in.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Joughin's time would be more believable if the water was warmer and the time scale itself wasn't completely jacked. If he had been pulled out of the water after three hours, daylight would have long broken and the Carpathia was already on the scene. Anyone who came out of the water alive and stayed alive did so long before the sun came up.

That article is interesting but it may not be all that useful in this context. Lewis Gordon Pugh...the subject of that article...is thoroughly trained and conditioned for that sort of thing and there's evidence that he has some voluntary control over his matabolism which is a lot more then may be said for anybody on the Titanic.

It shows there are exceptions but not necesserily that anybody on Titanic was one of them.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Much of Joughin's time 'in the water' was actually spent with his upper body out of the water on the upturned collapsible. That makes a big difference.
 
Nov 21, 2010
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Hello to all and especially Eloise,

I’m delighted to find this thread about Charles Joughin continuing. Yes — as pointed out, I haven’t logged in since 2006 — but recently stumbled across this discussion once again.

I’d like to try to address Eloise's thoughtful comments and questions about survival predictions and tables.

For the prediction of approximately 1 hr and 20 min average survival, I used the classic work by the Canadian investigator, John Hayward, which was used for years by the US Coast Guard and is still used by many hypothermia investigators today (Hayward JS: The physiology of immersion hypothermia. In Pozos RS, Wittners LE eds: The nature and treatment of hypothermia, Minneapolis, 1983, Univ Minnesota Press.). More recent prediction models, I think would also give a similar estimate (see for example Tikuisis P: Aviat Space Environ Med 1997; 68:441).

So why the discrepancy compared to the figures Eloise cited? To be honest, I’m not sure and I’d welcome the specific references if available. But I don’t doubt that differences are possible.

My use of the sources above for the estimate of 1 hr and 20 min. was based on many factors.

First and perhaps foremost, the sources I quote above all assume that the victim is wearing a personal flotation device (life jacket). Without flotation, survival is GREATLY decreased. Because life vests were available on Titanic, I think it is reasonable to assume that the majority of victims had them. In water 28 F, with flotation, survival for an average individual would be (using the sources above) approximately 1 hr and 20 min. Likely the victim would be unconscious much sooner — perhaps 45 minutes (or sooner). But WITHOUT FLOTATION, survival time would be dramatically less — perhaps 10 minutes or less depending on swimming ability, strength and other variables.

Secondly, the sea state was minimal the night Titanic sank. Thus, the conditions, in my opinion, matched fairly well with experimental conditions, especially those in Hayward’s studies. With rougher seas, survival time would have been less.

Lastly, some might argue that the prediction models I used are a bit optimistic — used by search and rescue personnel to give victims the benefit of the doubt and continue searches until no reasonable hope of survival remains. But given the mild sea state, and the use of flotation, I still think 1 hr and 20 min is a fair estimate.

My hunch is that Eloise's sources were perhaps more general and less specific than the ones I used - perhaps included a variety of sea states (not just calm), perhaps applicable to both victims with and victims without flotation, and perhaps just more conservative overall. Again, I’d welcome the references — obsessing over the differences in studies, after all, is what many would say we investigators do best…..

But now back to Mr. Charles Joughin. Do I still think the same as I did back in 2001? Well….yes…but maybe with a little less certainty. I still think it unlikely that he spent three hours in the water. The sunrise data seem to suggest that he didn’t. And I think most survival data also make it unlikely.

But after several more years of research, I’m a just a bit less sure. Over the years, I’ve reviewed some absolutely remarkable survival accounts, and there is considerable variability in individual responses to cold. Despite my doubts, maybe, just maybe, Charles Joughin, did last that long in extremely cold water. Regardless, I think it’s fair to say he beat the odds.

TJN
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Wasn't Charles John Joughin wearing raccoon fur coat also?<<

Not that I'm aware of. The trouble here is that we're trying to explain something without having any seriously credible evidence that there is anything here to explain.
 

Thomas Ozel

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May 17, 2012
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Hello all

Should it be noted that Joughin was not the only survivor who claimed he was in the water for several hours? Frank Prentice (one of the survivors rescued by Lifeboat No. 4) says in this 1966 BBC interview that he was in the water for 4 hours before a lifeboat picked him up. However this cannot be possible because No.4's search for survivors occured within roughly the first half an hour of the Titanic sinking, as No.4 later joined a flotilla of boats who took on No.14's passengers to enable Lowe to look for more survivors, and Lowe's rescue attempt occured 1 hour after the sinking. If 30 minutes (at the very most) seemed like 4 hours to Prentice, is it possible that Joughin made the same miscalculation?

Thomas.

BBC - Archive - Survivors of the Titanic - Today from the South & West | Sinking of RMS Titanic
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Human beings do not have a good sense of time. Sure, we all know "about" how long an hour lasts -- but not directly. What we know is how much can be done during that period of time. If humans were good at measuring time in their own heads there would have been much less need for clocks, pocket watches, etc. During a lifetime in broadcasting I've run into few announcers who can self-measure more than 60 seconds. Then, when you add to this the effect of hypothermia on the sensation of time, things get dicey for eyewitness accounts. Research has shown that when people are really cold their sense of passing time slows down. The old phrase, "minutes seemed like hours" seems to apply. Bottom line -- survivors in the water undoubtedly did not lie about how long they perceived they were in the water. But, someone standing nearby would have measured a much shorter period of time.

-- David G. Brown
 
Apr 27, 2019
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To summarise, Joughin got bread into the lifeboats, imbibed intoxicating drink, threw potential flotation devices into the sea, had more intoxicating drink, made his way to the stern, rode the ship into the sea, made his way from where he entered the sea towards collapsible B, hung around 'til he was picked up by another lifeboat, got into the Carpathia and breathed a sigh of relief.

Is there anything I missed?
 

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