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Monday, May 30, 2011

Fire/EMS Department Operating Under a "Heat Stress Watch"

Prince George’s County, Maryland, is in the midst of it's first heat wave of 2011 with temperatures in the unhealthy levels and a forecast of daytime temperatures remaining in the 90’s. The Fire/EMS Department has initiated our first “Heat Stress Watch” for all emergency personnel.  This condition was designed by the Department's Risk Management office to keep personnel healthy and injury free.

During a "Heat Stress Watch" dispatchers at Public Safety Communications broadcast a prepared message every two hours reminding personnel of the dangerous and unhealthy conditions. Throughout the course of the day dispatchers provide the following information over the Fire/EMS Departments radio system: 









“A heat stress watch is in effect for emergency operations. 

Incident Commanders; heat stress injuries to fire service personnel are likely. 

Consider limiting active work periods to 2 breathing air (SCBA) bottles or 40 minutes before directing crews to rehab.” 

Crews, maintain pre-incident hydration by drinking eight ounces of water every hour throughout your shift.”

“Prevention before response ensures everyone goes home.”

Attention to the health and wellness of firefighters and paramedics is of the utmost concern at all times and particular care and precautions are administered during periods of high temperatures and unhealthy air. After being involved in firefighting operations all personnel must report to a rehab area. Water and ice packs are provided for hydration and to help the cooling process.  Paramedics monitor vital signs and have personnel remain in the rehab area until vitals are documented as being within normal limits. Incident commanders are quick to request additional resources based on incident status. These resources include; Paramedics, air conditioned buses, additional staffing and a canteen unit.


Activity level so far this Memorial Day has been normal. It is expected that as the heat of the day increases, so will the number of incidents our personnel must respond to.  Remember, Stay Safe to ensure everyone goes home.




Crews, maintain pre-incident hydration by drinking eight ounces of water every hour throughout your shift

Water and ice packs are provided for hydration and to help the cooling process.  Paramedics monitor vital signs and have personnel remain in the rehab area until vitals are documented as being within normal limits.

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