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July 16, 2002
Toronto Paramedics helping people 'Beat the Heat'
Emergency Medical Services - Toronto EMS paramedics are on the job ensuring
that vulnerable citizens in the city are protected from heat-related illnesses.

During heat alerts or heat emergencies, specially-trained paramedics team up
with the Red Cross to form community medical response teams that assess
patients at risk for heat stress. The response teams evaluate the patients'
environments for ventilation, the humidex factor and other risk factors. They
then make concrete suggestions on how to increase air flow, find the coolest
area in the residence, and other other ways to beat the heat.

In hot weather, the public is encouraged to call or visit friends and
neighbours who are at risk of suffering health consequences because of the
heat. People at greatest risk include the elderly, infants and young children,
the chronically ill, and those taking certain medications.

Signs of heat illness include rapid breathing, headache, weakness or fainting,
confusion, and excessive or lack of sweating. Heat exhaustion may occur over a
few days, but can happen more quickly in a person who is dehydrated. Heat
stroke develops suddenly and can happen without warning.

People with questions about heat and heat-related illness should call the Red
Cross HEAT INFORMATION LINE at 416-480-2615 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and a
community medical response team will come to your home.

"This service takes some pressure off the 911 system by providing people who
don't think they need an ambulance with an alternative way to get help beating
the heat," says Peter Macintyre, Manager of Community Safeguard Services,
Toronto EMS. "If you are calling the Heat Information Line on behalf of a
relative, friend or neighbour who you feel may need assistance, please remember
to inform them that help is on the way."

People experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness or confusion, or
who feel they need medical attention should call 911 immediately.

"Beat the Heat" by drinking lots of water and natural fruit juices (no alcohol
or caffeine). Never leave children and pets unattended in a car. Stay out of
the blazing sun or heat. Avoid strenuous physical activity outdoors. Go to
places that are air conditioned, including shopping malls, community centres
and libraries.

Media Contact
Access Toronto

Canadian Red Cross
Heat information line



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