Austin medics react quickly to help person with extreme heat illness

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin-Travis County EMS and the Austin Fire Department had to act quickly to help a person suffering from a severe heat stroke in south Austin Tuesday.

Officials responded to a call about an unresponsive man with a core temperature of 108.2 degrees who collapsed outside a business in the Southpark Meadows shopping center.

ATCEMS Deputy Medical Director Dr. JR Pickett told medics to try everything possible to cool the patient on scene rather than transport him. Every minute that the patient remained at that high temperature, he was experiencing greater brain damage, according to an ATCEMS Facebook post.

Capt. Darren Noak told KXAN that medics began applying ice packs to different parts of the man’s body, but that wasn’t working well enough.

Photo: ATCEMS

The crews then ran to a Sam’s Club across the parking lot and got donations of a tarp, a shopping cart, several bags of ice, and enough water to help the person. They created an ice bath for the man.

“They were targeting a decrease of one degree Celsius per minute to try to keep dropping his core temperature down,” Capt. Noak said. “They immersed this person for about five minutes in the ice bath.”

He said medics also administered an IV with a chilled saline solution. That all helped lower the man’s temperature to 101.4 degrees, which finally made it safe enough to take him to the hospital.

“We saw results with the patient,” Capt. Noak said, “so he became a lot more active and alert.”

ATCEMS reported that the man is now recovering.

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