GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Ambulance services are making the rounds, ready to respond in case of heat-related emergencies as temperatures climb toward 100 degrees.
Grand Rapids emergency responders are on high alert for heat exhaustion, especially among the elderly and very young.
"You're looking at the very young children who have a hard time regulating their bodies because they're still growing into them," explained Life EMS Supervisor Mark Stinton. "You want to be sure the children are kept in a cool environment as much as possible. Then also, you're looking at your very elderly, too. ... It's the patients in their 70s, 80s, 90s by themselves. They're normally very healthy, but this added trauma of the heat today is going to place some extra demands on their bodies.""
The stifling mid-afternoon heat worried Stinton the most.
"It's been a quarter of a century since we've had temperatures this high," said Stinton.
If people aren't careful, heat cramps can lead to heat exhaustion.
"You finally get to heat stroke, which is the big concern. At this point, your body has done so much that it's raised its internal temp. You're unable to sweat anymore and now your brain is overheating," said Stinton.
As the heat index climbed to 106 around 3 p.m. on Wednesday, a call came in of a 32-year-old woman suffering apparent heat exhaustion at the Meijer in Jenison.
A Life EMS unit was the second to arrive, and the woman was taken to Metro Hospital. Her condition was not life-threatening.
Emergency room doctors in West Michigan reported few heat exhaustion cases as the thermometer crept toward 100 -- just a few were at Saint Mary's in Grand Rapids.
"It's a bit of a slow day, so we're keeping our ears on to see if something pops up," said Stinton.
That may be because Wednesday was Independence Day and people heeded warnings about staying cool and hydrated.
"The danger is that is sneaks up on you," said Stinton. "You need to be just keeping those fluids going in on a regular basis."
Stinton said he also worries what will happen Thursday and Friday, when people like road construction crews and factory workers return to work in this heat.
"My concern a little bit is Friday because you're talking about people trying to pack in before the weekend, trying to get as much work done as possible," he said.
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