Heatwave and health: hydrate, keep cool, and be aware

Sun screen

With temperatures soaring over the next few days, staff need to ensure they keep hydrated and cool as far as is possible.

The Trust has authorised that those wearing green uniform do not have to wear a T-shirt underneath the shirt, and water is being made available across the region as quickly as it can be deployed.

This will be in place from today (25th June), at the very least whilst the heatwave MET Office Level 3 heatwave warning is in place. Also: 

  • please take the time to make sure you’ve got water handy and keep topped-up on sun cream in case you’re attending an incident outside. Don’t forget sunglasses for driving in these bright conditions.  
  • if you’re in a Trust building like EOC or are on a vehicle with air conditioning, check it works properly and notify Estates or Fleet respectively if you notice any problems. 
  • even though it’s hot, please make sure that windows and doors at station and depots aren’t left open when no one from the Trust is on site. Burglars will take advantage of the warmer weather to target premises. 

If you’re patient-facing, please see below for heat related illnesses that may crop up over the coming days – it’ll be particularly handy if this is your first time working in a heatwave and you need a refresher: 

  • heat cramps – caused by dehydration and loss of electrolytes, often following exercise
  • heat rash – small, red, itchy papules
  • heat oedema – mainly in the ankles, due to vasodilatation and retention of fluid
  • heat syncope – dizziness and fainting due to dehydration, vasodilatation, cardiovascular disease and certain medications
  • heat exhaustion – this occurs as a result of water or sodium depletion, with non-specific features of malaise, vomiting, dizziness, tachycardia, hypotension, sweating, muscle pain, weakness, cramps and headaches, and is present when the core temperature is between 37ºC and 40ºC. Left untreated, heat exhaustion may evolve into heatstroke.
  • heat stroke – where the body’s thermoregulation mechanism fails. This leads to a medical emergency, with symptoms of extreme fatigue, headaches, fainting, facial flushing, vomiting, diarrhoea, confusion, disorientation, convulsions, unconsciousness, hot dry skin, and core body temperature exceeding 40ºC for between 45 minutes and eight hours. In extreme cases it can result in cell death, organ failure, brain damage or death. 

Please refer to your JRCALC Clinical Practice Guidelines and Clinical Manual/App for more information.

Meanwhile, we’ve been issuing advice to all sun lovers asking them to stay safe and consider other options than 999 and hope to feature EEAST on radio and other broadcasts. We also want to show the human side of the service – if you have a photo of you and colleagues taking on board the heatwave advice and have a minute to send us a photo for social media, just What’s App 07739 325263 or email communications@eastamb.nhs.uk.  

Published 25th June 2018

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