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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bicyclist May Be Victim of High Heat

Prince George’s County Firefighter/Medics responded on a call this morning involving a 20-year-old male and a possible heat related illness. At the time of the incident, about 11:15 am, Saturday, July 24, 2010, temperatures were in the mid 90’s with humidity at 43%. Firefighter/Medics from Oxon Hill and a Paramedic Unit from Fort Washington were alerted to an unconscious person in the Potomac River Park. A 20-year-old male bicyclist was on a bike path that runs between the Oxon Hill Farm and the National Harbor when apparently he went unconscious and fell from his bike. Witnesses reported seeing the male hit his head on a tree as he fell from the bike causing some abrasions.

Upon arrival, firefighter/medics found by-stander CPR being administered. Personnel assessed the patient and quickly confirmed that he was in cardiac arrest and continued advanced life support measures. During application of pre-hospital care, medics noted the patient was displaying possible signs of heat related illness. The patient was transported to the Fort Washington Hospital Center. Despite the best efforts of firefighter/medics and emergency room staff the male was pronounced deceased a short time after his arrival at the hospital.

While an official cause of death will not be determined until an autopsy is performed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, paramedics feel that high temperatures and humidity more then likely played a role in this young mans death. The Unites States Park Police and the Prince George’s County Police Department will be conducting a joint agency death investigation.

The weekend forecast is for high temperatures and unhealthy air. Stay cool by staying indoors and drinking plenty of water. Check in with senior citizen neighbors and relatives, you might just be saving a life!!!

The volunteer and career men and women of the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department want you to stay safe during this current heat pattern. It is important to recognize symptoms of heat related illness and take action quickly.


Heatstroke is a serious illness characterized by a body temperature greater than 105 degrees. Symptoms may include dry red skin, convulsions, disorientation, delirium and coma. Onset of heatstroke can be rapid: a person can go from feeling apparently well to a seriously ill condition within minutes. Treatment of heatstroke involves the rapid lowering of body temperature, using a cool bath or wet towels. A heatstroke victim should be kept in a cool area; emergency medical care should be obtained by dialing 911.

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heatstroke that may develop due to a combination of several days with high temperatures and dehydration in an individual. Signs of heat exhaustion include extreme weakness, muscle cramps, nausea, or headache. Victims may also vomit or faint. Heat exhaustion is treated with plenty of liquids and rest in a cool, shaded area. If the persons condition does not show signs of improvement call 911.

Follow these safety tips to help keep you safe.


• Drink plenty of fluids such as water and fruit juices to prevent dehydration -- be aware that alcohol can impair the body's sweat mechanism, as can fairly common medications such as antihistamines and diuretics;

• Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes;

• Avoid direct sunlight by staying in the shade and by wearing sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses;

• When possible, stay in air-conditioned areas. If your home is not air-conditioned, consider a visit to a shopping mall or public library.

• NEVER leave pets or young children in a car, even with the windows cracked;

• Check on elderly relatives or neighbors at least daily; and

• Take it easy when outdoors. Athletes and those who work outdoors should take short breaks when feeling fatigued. Schedule physical activity during the morning or evening when it is cooler.

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