Heat dangers? Hamilton medic runs up 37 percent over last year

Hamilton firefighters and paramedics have had more calls for service in recent weeks, and the fire chief believes heat-related illnesses are a significant part of that. FILE PHOTO
Hamilton firefighters and paramedics have had more calls for service in recent weeks, and the fire chief believes heat-related illnesses are a significant part of that. FILE PHOTO

With the summer heat here, paramedic crews are getting more heat-related calls, and Hamilton’s fire chief is asking people to check on friends or family who live alone, especially those who don’t have air conditioning.

“In the five-day period from June 27 through July 1, we had 279 calls,” said Fire Chief Mark Mercer. That’s 37 percent more than the 203 calls during same period last year.

It’s difficult to know exactly how many of those were heat related, but Mercer said he has a sense heat was a factor in that jump. Overdoses of heroin and other opioids were not a significant factor in the increase, he said.

“For the last month or so, we’ve been exceptionally busy,” Mercer said. “We’ve had days when we’re over 50 calls, and our typical is 35.

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“I think it’s mostly just the heat, people being hot and being too close together, and that causes some stuff for us. Anybody that’s old or has health conditions, if they don’t have air conditioning.

“If you’ve got somebody, especially people that live alone, people should check on them,” he said. “On the family side, particularly elderly, or people that have a medical condition, they should check on them — at the very least, maybe a phone call, and they should stop by once a day to check on them.”

Also, “if people have problems with their utilities, and their electric’s off, or their water’s off, we need to be able to get them someplace where they can take care of themselves and stay cool and hydrated,” he said.