LUBBOCK, Texas — EMS and Emergency Rooms are seeing heat-related injuries with the triple-digit temperatures in the South Plains.
Chad Curry, Training Chief with University Medical Center EMC, said the hottest time of day is between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
“We’re averaging about five major calls a week that are now — these are just major calls a week that we’re seeing that we’re having to intervene,” Curry said.
Curry said there are several stages to these heat emergencies:
“Starting with heat cramps, and that’s just going to be where you start to get that fatigue and you start to not feel good, you may have those cramps,” Curry said. “And then we start to move into heat exhaustion, and that’s where we really start to get ourselves in a little bit of trouble. And then we move into the heat stroke. And that’s where it gets becomes dangerous because it becomes an altered mental status at that point.”
Dr. Trey Morris, Emergency Medicine Residency Program Director, said it’s not good if you’ve made it to the emergency room with this type of emergency.
“You’ve probably got muscle breakdown, you’ve probably got evidence of kidney damage, he may have some electrolyte problems that can cause life threatening heart arrhythmias,” Morris said.
Dr. Morris also said relying on IV fluid as a cure is not the right approach.
“A lot of times the damage, while it may be reversible, it’s not without its costs,” Morris said.
Morris said they frequently see the older population go in with heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
“If you wait until you feel thirsty, when you’ve been sweating, you may already be a little bit behind. And one of the best gauges you have as far as how well you’re hydrating is is how concentrated is your urine. So the closer to clear urine is the more likely it is that you’re hydrating adequately and the darker your urine has, the more likely you are to be significantly dehydrated.” Dr. Morris said.
Curry and Morris said to stay hydrated that you drink lots of fluids like water and drinks with electrolytes and a least one botte an hour. They also said to stay cool and out of the sun for long periods of time.