Firefighters using ice immersion to treat heatstroke victims as temperatures soar above 100F in parts of US

Firefighters are immersing heatstroke victims in ice on the way to hospitals as temperatures soar in the US southwest.
Dangerously hot conditions in the city of Phoenix, Arizona, produced triple-digit temperatures on Tuesday – and forecasters say they are likely to top 110F (43.3C) in some areas by Thursday, prompting excessive heat warnings.

Phoenix Fire Department hopes employing the new tactic of using cold water immersion therapy will save more lives.
At least 645 people in Maricopa County – home of Phoenix and many of its suburbs – died from heat-related causes last year – a 52% increase on the previous year.
“Just last week we had a critical patient that we were able to bring back before we walked through the emergency room doors,” said Fire Captain John Prato.

“That’s our goal – to improve patient survivability.”

Image: There were 645 heat-related deaths in Phoenix’s Maricopa County last year. File pic: AP
The fire chief said the medical technique is familiar to marathon runners and military service members and has also recently been adopted by Phoenix hospitals as a go-to protocol.
It involves packing ice cubes inside an impermeable blue bag around a patient’s body.
He said the technique could dramatically lower a person’s body temperature in minutes.


Image: Phoenix Fire Captain John Prato demonstrates the new protocol. Pic: AP
Tuesday’s temperatures reached 106F (41.1C) in Bullhead City, Arizona, 104F (40C) in Phoenix and 103F (39.4C) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Highs in California included 112F (44.4C) at Furnace Creek in Death Valley, 108F (42.2C) in Needles and 104F (40C) in Palm Springs.
By Wednesday afternoon, much of an area stretching from southeast California to central Arizona will see “easily their hottest” weather since last September, forecasters said.
Excessive heat warnings have been issued for Wednesday morning through to Friday evening for parts of southeast California, southern Nevada and Arizona.
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“We’ve been seeing a severe uptick in the past three years in cases of severe heat illness,” said Dr Paul Pugsley, medical director of emergency medicine with Valleywise Health, a network of taxpayer-funded hospitals in Arizona. Of those, about 40% do not survive, he added.
Cooling down patients long before they get to the emergency department could help, Dr Pugsley said.

Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix used the technique to treat patients last summer, said Dr Aneesh Narang, assistant medical director of emergency medicine at the hospital.
“This cold water immersion therapy is really the standard of care to treat heatstroke patients,” he said.

Source : Sky News