Things have been heating up in Oklahoma. EMSA is in their 15th day issuing heat alerts. They have also treated shy of 100 patients due to heat-related illnesses.
“In Oklahoma we are used to the heat, but what we haven’t been used to are those high humidity levels,” said David Howerton, Western Division Chief with the Office of the Medical Director.
Howerton warns heat strokes or heat exhaustion can come on quickly after spending time outside.
“We aren’t stopping and realizing that maybe I should be drinking more water, or I should remove myself from this environment and cool off,” said Howerton.
Howerton credits the high humidity to heat-related calls going up. With high humidity, it can speed up heat exhaustion.
“Your skin starts to feel sticky and we have an increase in pulse rate,” said Howerton.
On top of that, there is excessive sweating involved and with the humidity that sweat isn’t able to evaporate.
“We are losing all of those chemicals and salts in our body,” said Howerton.
If you can avoid the heat, he said do it. But if you can’t, try and take breaks.
“If you have to work outside you need to be taking plenty of breaks,” said Howerton.
First responders also have to be careful while they are working calls in this heat.
“They are required to come out and take breaks after every couple of tanks of air to sit, rest, and have some water,” said Ryan Howard, and EMSA paramedic.
On their breaks, Howard is in charge of the rehab and gives them fluids to make sure they are staying hydrated.
“If they are not hydrated, they could pass out in the fire and we don’t want that to happen,” said Howard.
If you are on the streets or working as a first responder, Howard wants everyone to listen to what their body is saying.