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SoCal heat wave keeps ERs, firefighters busy

September 28, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Southern California's heat wave has sent many people to the hospital with varying degrees of heat exhaustion.The 113-degree scorcher in downtown Los Angeles landed 113 people with heat-related illnesses at Good Samaritan Hospital's emergency room.

The fall temperature explosion kept the L.A. Fire Department extremely busy. The agency reports it did more medical transports Monday than any day in its history.

Good Samaritan's emergency department director, Dr. Philip Fagan, says almost all of the patients admitted were seniors with varying degrees of heat exhaustion.

"People suffered from weakness, abdominal pain, occasionally dry skin," Fagan said. "The 90-year-old woman we saw yesterday had a temperature of 104."

After a few days of temperatures of over 100 degrees, doctors believe it was the cumulative effect that landed most of the elderly here in the ER.

"They get a little dehydrated the first day and their temperature may go up a little bit," said Dr. Fagan. "They get no rest because of the heat. And they don't take enough fluids in."

At Glendale Adventist Medical Center, people continue to come in suffering from heat exhaustion. The temperatures may be starting to cool, but doctors warn the prolonged heat exposure means more people can still get dehydrated.

"You may not have symptoms until at least the third or fourth day after being exposed to the hot weather," said Dr. Anthony Cardillo of Glendale Adventist Medical Center. "We are concerned about dizziness, weakness, headache and abdominal pain, anything that may represent dehydration."

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