AUSTIN, Texas — The triple-digit weather is tough on all of us, and doctors want you to be careful with heat-related illnesses. It's a message Austin firefighters are taking to heart.
“That makes it more of a concern," said Austin Fire Division Chief Palmer Buck. "We have different procedures that we follow in the hotter temperatures.”
Fire crews deal with a lot on a daily basis and when the summer temperatures settle in, they struggle. But they have many ways to keep cool.
“We’re fortunate as a big city that we have a lot of resources to tap into," said Buck. “We also staff an extra unit that comes out to our big calls. When the heat index is above 103 degrees, staff will call it a rehab unit, that will come out to fires and long-term events that it actually brings water, cooling chairs and it’s a giant fan that’s on the back of it.”
Dr. Christopher Ziebell said they have it harder than most people.
“They’re already in a hot environment and then they’re going in a hotter environment and they’re wearing a lot of protective gear,” said Dr. Ziebell.
Their gear weighs more than 100 pounds.
“Its about 35 pounds," said Buck. "You add an air pack, it brings you to about 60 pounds of gear and assorted tools and hoses you might carry."
Buck said some of his firefighters have suffered from heat exhaustion, but thankfully it was nothing severe.
“Again, that’s something we’re always monitoring," said Ziebell. "EMS comes with us on all of our fires and, as our crews come out and rotate out, they’re there in case they have to be evaluated.”
Dr. Ziebell said if you feel heat exhaustion symptoms, you should call for help.
“Almost like a flu-like symptom, maybe a little nausea, a little headache, maybe some light headed," said Dr. Ziebell. "If that progresses, the next thing they’ll see is some muscle cramps or spasms and that’s when it gets pretty severe.”
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