The hot temps are prompting some medical emergencies. With the 4th of July holiday falling mid-week, many people are off from school and work. They're braving the temperatures and putting themselves in danger.
Because of the storm and the heat, the call volume for Richmond Ambulance Authority has increased and so has the staffing.
For most people, the Fourth of July means fun and fireworks. For the crews at Richmond Ambulance, it means more work.
By day, fifteen ambulance crews wait to respond to your 911 call. By night, a dozen are kept running with an influx of emergencies. RAA anticipated the up tick and added those trucks. They know the heat takes a toll on the body.
"There's the excessive sweating," explained Lt. Jennifer Reese. "So the more you sweat, the more fluids you need to take in. Not everybody applies that rule. With sweat, follows electrolytes; electrolytes affect cardiac rhythms. It affects your basic homeostasis."
In a week with continuous high temps, paramedics and EMTs see patients with breathing problems, heat exhaustion and painful heat cramps.
This week's storm also caused an influx in calls. Richmond Ambulance usually doesn't see as many medical emergencies during a storm, but after when people are without power and stress aggravates pre-existing conditions.
Crews are not immune to the issues. Even with new gas trucks, they must take precautions when posted.
"They're mobile microwaves," Reese added. "The heat absorbs into the walls in the back. The cool air coming out of the back circulates, grabs that heat and now it's like a convection oven."
For now, crews are given coolers with cold water. In extreme circumstances, they even come back to headquarters to hose off a hot truck. But those fixes are temporary.
"We will do what we have to do," Lt. Reese said. "We have a commitment to the citizens of Richmond to provide them with world class EMS and we will do what we have to do to make that happen."
Richmond Ambulance will continue to adjust staffing on a daily basis as the summer goes on to account for any changes in call volume.
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