Emergency room heat-related cases on the rise

MISSION HILLS Heat exhaustion can strike even the ones trained to rescue to the rest of us. L.A. City firefighter Gordon Wilson was fighting his third structure fire on Wednesday in the San Fernando Valley and he didn't have time to take care of himself.

"They all talked me into coming here and getting an IV," said Wilson. "I really don't want to be here."

Wilson is trained to know all the signs and symptoms, but he stayed on the fire lines until he started feeling weak.

"It is lightheadedness, nausea and it feels like you are going to pass out," said Wilson. "The heavy gear protects us from heat and flames, but our bodies don't get a chance to breathe."

Providence Holy Cross Medical Center emergency physician Alex Denny says as the Southland heat wave wears on, heat illness will be sneaking up on more and more people.

"After four to five days, a couple of weeks at a time it can definitely have an accumulative effect," said Dr. Denny.

When heat exhaustion progresses to heat stroke, it becomes life threatening. In the ER, IV fluids are the fastest way to replenish the body. But heat related illness is 100 percent preventable.

In high temps, Dr. Denny recommends people take in water every 20 to 30 minutes.

"Drink plenty of clear fluids, water or Gatorade to stay hydrated," said Dr. Denny.

The young, the elderly and those with compromising health conditions are the most at risk. But even strongest and healthiest people can fall victim to the heat.

"If you are constantly sweating and if you do not replace that with fluids sufficiently you will end up here, like I am today," said Wilson.

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