Heat-Related Illnesses Mounting In North Texas

Chris Sommer
July 08, 2019 - 5:11 pm
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DALLAS (1080 KRLD) - Even if the mercury has yet to reach 100 degrees this summer, we still are dealing with the type of heat that can be dangerous and even deadly.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area is included in a heat advisory that goes into effect at 1 p.m. Tuesday. The National Weather Service is expecting temperatures in the upper 90s, with heat index readings approaching 110 degrees Tuesday and Wednesday.

In Fort Worth, MedStar spokesman Matt Zavadsky said the ambulance service responded to 40 patients with primary heat-related illnesses over the first week of July. Zavadsky said, "Eight of those patients were serious or critical. 32 of the 40 ended up having to go to the hospital because they were so critical. We anticipate that number to escalate."

So far in July, MedStar crews had responded to three cases of heatstroke, which can be deadly.

Zavadsky said most of the heat-related cases they see involve heat exhaustion. "That's sort of the beginning phase of a heat-related illness. People are fatigued, they might be nauseous, they are profusely sweating. They may look a little bit gray," he said.

The symptoms are different - and more alarming - in the case of heatstroke. Zavadsky said, "Their body loses the ability to sweat, which then creates an even higher body temperature. We've seen body temperatures of 104, 105 degrees, and that's just not sustainable with life."

If you suspect any sign of a heat-related illness, Zavadsky recommends calling 911.

As heat index readings again soar over 105 degrees, MedStar will again implement its extreme weather response protocol. That means priority is given to patients who are waiting outdoors for a response.  

MedStar is also updating its ambulance fleet, featuring units designed with the Texas heat in mind. Those ambulances have three air conditioners, including one for the cab and two for the patient/crew compartment in the back.​