As the summer heat continues, the Fayetteville Fire Department says they're adding new medications to their emergency responder toolkits to help with heat-related health issues.
The medications include albuterol, oral glucose, Benadryl and Tylenol. The meds treat conditions exacerbated by the heat including breathing issues, diabetic emergencies, allergic reactions, high fevers and other related illnesses.
"We're hoping, worst case, we're going to increase the survivability of our community's experienced medical crises," said Fire Chief Mike Hill. "Best case, we just make them more comfortable...We hope that it will lead to even further enhancements in the future. Maybe some more drug therapies or more treatment protocols we can bring into our program."
The fire department says that while it's not reporting a spike in service calls in the recent days during this heat wave, it says it has historically received more medical calls during the summer. Those calls increase because of the heat, the spread of allergens and viruses, and because the public tends to be more active this time of year.
Meanwhile, this week Cumberland County opened up almost 30 cooling stations in the Fayetteville area for those without access to air conditioning. However, officials admit there are countless, vulnerable people--especially the elderly--in rural areas still struggling with the high temps. Some seniors are unable to reach cooling stations due to a lack of transportation or simply don't want to leave their homes.
"They are very independent," said Gene Booth, the director of Cumberland County Emergency Services. He notes some older residents say things like: "'I was brought up this way. I never had this, you know. I don't need it,' but as we change, it's important to drink plenty of fluids and have fans."
The Fayetteville Fire Department may be amping up its preparations to help people in medical and heat-related crises. However, with the intense heat outside and the department's advisories to avoid strenuous work outdoors, Eric Smalls, says he has to navigate the heat as best as he can as he works outdoors.
The owner of Choice Concrete Coating says he frequently has to work outside for his clients as he does cleanup and construction on their concrete.
"You start early in the morning and get the majority of your work done, you beat the brunt of the heat," Smalls said. Breaking down his routine and tactics for keeping safe and cool, he said: "PPE, proper sunglasses, hat, towel, hydration, taking proper breaks, proper adequate breaks every 15 minutes depending on the heat index."
Cumberland County Emergency Services and the fire department continue to urge the public to stay hydrated and exercise caution whenever temperatures become excessively high.