JPSO: Spike in heat-related calls straining emergency resources

Extreme heat putting strain on emergency responders

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - There seems to be no relief from the heat and Jefferson Parish officials said they’ve received a spike in heat-related emergency calls for service, which Sheriff Joe Lopinto said is putting a strain on emergency resources.

The sweltering heat is why Jefferson Parish officials are warning residents to stay inside and hydrate.

“Yesterday alone, we had nine EMS calls in Jefferson Parish over the probably three-hour period of the intense heat that was going on," Lopinto said. “For the heat exhaustion, people that were transported to the hospital.”

Lopinto said while nine heat-related calls doesn’t seem like much, it makes up 10 percent of all calls EMS receives in a day.

While the spike in calls may be recent, LSU Emergency Medicine Professor James Aiken said people suffering from heat-related illness have been showing up in the emergency room for the past few months.

"Hospitals tend to see patients with heat-related illnesses, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, a couple of months before the official warnings go out, and certainly before the heat index goes above the 90 to 100 that we most commonly associate with heat-related illnesses," Aiken said.

Lopinto said these calls for service take resources from other emergencies.

"On a normal given day, we only have about 12 to 14 ambulances out on the Eastbank and Westbank of unincorporated Jefferson Parish. You take nine calls during that short period of time, you're taking away from the ability of them to be able to respond to people that are having heart attacks, that are having other related illnesses," Lopinto said.

Meanwhile, people are trying their best to find ways to stay cool.

Jefferson Parish officials said heat strokes are serious and can be deadly, so it’s important to stay hydrated with electrolytes and check on neighbors, especially if they’re elderly.

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