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How firefighters can prevent heat exhaustion while battling blazes during heat wave

PAICONES, Calif. (KION) - While many are beating the heat, firefighters in San Benito County are fighting off flames.

"The heat waves that we're dealing with right now, we take extra precautions as an agency," said Josh Silveira, Battalion Chief for CAL FIRE.

On Tuesday, a CAL FIRE member had to be pulled from battling the fire after suffering heat exhaustion.
Doctor Shashank Ravi with Stanford Health Care says the laborious job of a firefighter makes them prone to heat exhaustion.

"They're wearing heavy gear. They're wearing full-layered clothing, full-layered boots and hats, which can trap the heat inside their environments. If they're close to the front lines, the heat dome is creating more humidity as well. And so those are all great risk factors," said Dr. Shashank Ravi a physician in the emergency department at Stanford Health Care.

Dr. Ravi says anyone living or working in these purple parts highlighted on the map need to stay hydrated, wear light clothing, turn on AC and stay in the shade.

Unfortunately, firefighters don't have that luxury when there's a 1,200-acre fire burning.

In that case, Dr. Ravi says; "The biggest thing we can ask these individuals to do is take a break, step away, find ways to cool themselves both by staying internally hydrated, as well as having external fans, mist and hydration mechanisms."

Silveira says that CAL FIRE is having trucks handing water to fire crews. They also start preparing for the heat before it starts by going on hikes and reminding crews that a slow-and-steady approach wins the race.

"We also understand that it's a marathon. We can't go out there and treat it like a sprint. We need to pace ourselves and understand that there's a long game here. It's not just a quick burst of energy and then we're done," said Silveira.

Heat exhaustion should be prevented before it can turn into a heat stroke. This includes experiencing any symptoms like Dizziness, Muscle cramping, Nausea, Weakness and Confusion

"Those would be reasons to go to the emergency department and seek medical help," said Dr. Ravi.

I'm being told that the firefighter who suffered from heat exhaustion was released from the hospital after being treated.

As of now, about 50 fire crews are here battling the Airline Fire. For now, the best thing you can do if you have to work outdoors in this heat, is to stay hydrated and take breaks.

Article Topic Follows: Local News
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Dania Romero

Dania Romero is an reporter at KION News Channel 46.


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