First responders busy as heat wave smothers region

Oregon

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are both serious, but heat stroke is life threatening

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Everyone is affected by the record-setting triple-digit heat smothering the Pacific Northwest. That means first responders are very busy.

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said ambulances have been stretched thin. They’re asking people to postpone outdoor activities, stay out of the heat and take it easy until the temperatures go down.

Heat-related calls are also affecting other agencies like Portland Fire & Rescue and AMR.

“Our heat-related volume is through the roof and that’s because people are not prepared for this. We are not used to three days of triple-digit numbers,” said Marc Kilman-Burnham, the director of Governmental Affairs for American Medical Response.

AMR has been doing mobile hydration since Friday and on Monday he handed out 198 water bottles to people in need.

“We want to keep the ambulances on the street responding to emergencies and any way I can help out and reduce that workload, that’s what I am here to do,” he said.

Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue responded to several fires, including a brush fire in West Linn, along with multiple heat-related calls.

“I think especially today we are starting to see that the extended heat was really aggravating whether it be existing health conditions that were prone to dehydration or it was them having a difficult time keeping their homes cool,” said TVFR spokesperson Stefan Myers.

Vancouver firefighters get checked for heat exhaustion after battling a 2-alarm house fire during a record-setting heat wave, June 28, 2021 (KOIN)

Some people don’t even realize the impact of the heat. If you’re feeling dizzy, if your skin is clammy, if you’re excessively sweating that’s heat exhaustion.

Kilman-Burnham said heat exhaustion and heat stroke are both serious, but heat stroke is life threatening.

CDC: Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness

“There is no sweating, that’s what confuses people,” he said. “Your body temp is going to be above 103, your skin is going to be red hot and dry. This time you’ll have a rapid strong pulse and people may lose consciousness and if they do and you see these symptoms, you’ve got to immediately take action. Call 911 so AMR can respond.”

Make sure to wear light clothing. Hydrating is key. And remember to check on the elderly and those who are vulnerable.

Vancouver firefighters get checked for heat exhaustion after battling a 2-alarm house fire during a record-setting heat wave, June 28, 2021 (KOIN)

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