What are Emergency Oxygen Systems?
Emergency Oxygen Systems are simply cylinders of compressed oxygen which can be used by trekkers who are starting to show symptoms of altitude sickness and need to be removed from the mountain. They are not used to keep trekkers on the mountain, but only in the event of evactuation. Emergency Oxygen Systems should not be confused with ALTOX Personal Oxygen Systems.
An ALTOX Personal Oxygen System is designed to provide oxygen at low dosage in order to assist a trekker to continue their Kilimanjaro climb. An Emergency Oxygen System provides full flow oxygen to a trekker suffering from acute symptoms as part of their evacuation from the mountain. ALTOX Personal Oxygen Systems can easily be converted for use as Emergency Oxygen Systems by bypassing the pulse dose meter, but Emergency Oxygen Systems CANNOT be converted into ALTOX Personal Oxygen Systems.
Are Emergency Oxygen Systems needed on a Kilimanjaro trek? For many years we did not carry Emergency Oxygen Systems as part of our standard kit on the mountain, although we have always been able to provide them as an optional paid extra. The main pressure to carry these systems comes from the fact that some of the large charity outfits have started to take them as standard, largely due to the fact that they have a much more mixed clientele, some of whom are not particularly well suited to the rigours of the mountain. Some of our competitors have followed suit and now offer emergency oxygen systems as standard. But we continue to advocate that Emergency Oxygen Systems are not essential. Since our climb partners, African Walking Company, started Kilimanjaro operations in 1999 they have never encountered a situation where it was needed. In all cases the best and most expedient solution to altitude sickness is early detection and removal to lower altitude.