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Home > Topics > Safety
July 08, 2010
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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Stay safe and cool this summer

Editor's note: With temperatures rising in the eastern seaboard, our Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh reminds us of ways to stay safe and cool while treating others.

To those of you who are sweltering in the eastern seaboard heat this week, remember that the heat related illnesses that strike our patient can affect us as well.

You know to stay hydrated, but that means that you should be drinking enough non caffeinated fluids to urinate every hour or two. If you do not need to go for longer than that, or your urine is very amber or darker, you may be running the risk of being dehydrated.

Waiting until you feel thirsty is waiting too long. If you are in the unfortunate position of being in the initial stages of dehydration, find a place of shade, cool off quickly and rehydrate. Common sense I know, but it's easy to ignore the first signs of headache, lightheadedness and weakness.

The heat extreme is taxing on vehicles too. Check coolant levels, hoses and other related equipment not only at the beginning of the shift, but during as well.

Check air conditioning ability in the passenger compartment. Don't forget though — critical trauma patients can’t manage cool temps well, so don't make an icebox out of your patient compartment.

In long duration heat events, systems are also pushed to their limits. Mutual aid may be delayed or not available. Review your protocols to see if there are any changes in transport decisions or destination guidelines.

Anticipate large scale complications like blackouts that can compound issues, especially to patients who are dependent on technology like ventilators.

So, stay cool, stay hydrated, and stay safe. Time for a nice cool drink!

About the author

EMS1 Editor in Chief Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. In the profession since 1982, Art has worked as a line medic and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a published textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at a rural hospital-based ALS system. Contact Art at Art.Hsieh@ems1.com.
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