With the forecast of triple-digit temperatures in North Texas to last for several days, and a Heat Advisory in effect until 7 p.m. Wednesday, Medstar Ambulance in Fort Worth is ready for an increase in heat-related emergency calls.
Medstar's public affairs director, Matt Zavadsky, said heat-related calls in their service area are up 47 percent over last year.
On Monday, Medstar responded to 10 heat-related calls for everything from people working outside in the heat, to a woman overcome with heat exhaustion in a hot apartment, to two children being locked in a hot car. None of those were deadly.
"First is heat exhaustion, that's where you're getting weak, fatigued, sweating profusely, very thirsty, " said Zavadsky. "That is a medical concern, but not a medical emergency."
Heat exhaustion can quickly progress to heat stroke.
"Now the body has lost its ability to sweat. This body temperature shoots way up high, they can have seizures, they can become unconscious," Zavadsky explained. "That is a true life-threatening emergency."
If left untreated, or if treated improperly, heat stroke can be fatal.
Zavadsky said Medstar responded to two calls this summer where patients died from heat stroke. He said it's not just the heat, but the prolonged period of heat that is a concern.
Medstar's busiest times in the summer for heat-related calls are from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., as the sun builds toward the hottest part of the day and in the first few hours after.