Keep cool for the summer

Sun screen

It looks like summer is here and temperatures are set to soar to more than 30˚C – the highest seen so far this year.

We know that working shifts in the heat is hard work, especially when wearing a uniform, carrying equipment and moving patients.

Please take the time to make sure you’re set for the warm weather as well. Make sure to wear sun-cream in case you’re attending an incident outside, and have sunglasses on hand for driving in bright conditions.

If you’re in a Trust building like EOC or are on a vehicle with air conditioning, check it’s working properly and notify estates or fleet respectively if you notice any problems.

Please also make sure that, even though it’s hot, stations and depots aren’t left with windows and doors open when no one from the Trust is on site.

With the warm temperatures set to stay, we’ve been issuing advice to all sun lovers asking them to stay safe; in the summer we often see an increase in calls to people on coastal areas and in open water, and we’re asking people to consider other options than 999.

Heat related illnesses

With a rise in temperature, we often see an increase in calls to patients with specific heat related illnesses. Some to be aware of include:

  • 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 for more information.

We will be using #999summer on Twitter all summer. Follow @EastEnglandAmb to get involved in discussions and advice.

Published 18th July, 2016

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