The Herald Bulletin

July 18, 2013

Medics busy with heat-related service calls, few hospitalizations

By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — With a third consecutive day of temperatures in the 90s, medic crews were busy responding to complaints of heat exhaustion throughout the middle of Thursday.

But few cases ended up requiring hospitalization, as the day dragged on and temperatures cooled, medics saw instances of heat-related illnesses drastically reduce. Still, officials warn that heat exhaustion is serious and the public should be prepared.

St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital spokesman Randy Titus said that in the past three days, there have only been a few reports of heat-related illnesses from the emergency room. Still, Titus said heat-related concerns receive special attention from physicians this time of year, and residents should treat it just as seriously.

"We always tell people, if they are outside and they start to feel overwhelmed, don't take chances. Get inside where it's cooler. This is especially true of children and the elderly. If you know someone who you suspect might be suffering from heat exhaustion, get them attention," Titus said.

Those concerns were echoed by the city's paramedics. Anderson Fire Department Medic 1 member Anthony Malon said he only responded to one case of heat-related illness during his shift on Thursday, but that doesn't mean it's not an issue.

For medics responding to heat-related calls, the first step is to check the patient's blood pressure and heart rate to make sure they're not in danger of becoming hypotensive. Then they'll try to cool the patient with the air conditioning in the ambulance or with cold packs. Finally, they'll put the patient on an IV if necessary for quick hydration.

Malon said a good tip many might not think of in this weather is to stay away from carbonated soft drinks. They'll give the impression of quenching thirst but will actually dehydrate the drinker.

Anderson Fire Chief Phil Rogers, who began his career as a paramedic, said the public should always be careful during heat waves, and advised anyone who needs to be outside to drink plenty of water and take breaks as necessary.

The heat wave is expected to top out tonight, according to the National Weather Service. The high is predicted to be 93 degrees Fahrenheit with a slight chance of thunderstorms. Temperatures are expected to fall back into the 80s for the weekend.

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