With four deaths due to heatstroke in a week, the state health department has sprung into action, training doctors and earmarking dedicated beds for patients in all district hospitals. According to the Directorate of Health Services (DHS), air-conditioners and air-coolers are being installed in separate wards at district hospitals for patients affected by hyperthermia.
In the month of March alone, 1,142 hyperthermia patients were attended to by the government-run ambulance service, 108, across the state, of which maximum were from Amravati (89) followed by Mumbai (81), Pune (72) and Yavatmal (70).
The toll-free ambulance aims to provide first aid to save critical time. “The protocol is to reduce body temperature by taking the patient to a cooler shed and by removing excessive clothing,” said an official from the helpline, adding that patients might be given oral rehydration solution (ORS) to stabilise them before reaching hospital.
“We have identified 18 to 20 districts where summers are most harsh. Training to medical staff and allocation of four beds each in district hospital have been done. In other districts, doctors have been sensitised about treatment for heatstroke,” said Dr Satish Pawar, director at DHS. Dhule, Jalgaon, Solapur, and districts falling under Marathwada and Vidarbha have reported higher temperatures with maximum soaring above 40 degrees Celsius this year.
The high cases of heatstrokes, where body temperature rises above normal due to prolonged exposure to intense heat, have been attributed to prolonged drought-like conditions in the state in the last two years. Data from the emergency ambulance service shows a steady rise in hyperthermia cases in last three years. From 185 patients handled in 2014 (April to May), the count of hyperthermia patients rose to 1,255 in 2015 and 2,688 in 2016.
Last year, maximum calls came from Amravati (393) followed by Mumbai (206), Yavatmal (148) and Chandrapur (122). This year, Bhira village in Raigad reported maximum temperature in India on March 29 at 46.5 degrees Celsius.
On Sunday, the India Meteorological Department reported that maximum temperatures reached 41 degrees in Amravati, 40.8 degrees in Beed, 41 degrees in Bhira, 42 degrees in Jalgaon and 32 degrees in Mumbai (Santacruz). Patients affected by heatwave are given cold water bath, admitted in a room with an air-cooler or air-conditioner, and efforts are made to bring down their body temperature. Exhaustion in sun is also responsible for heatstroke, officials said, adding that prolonged exposure to sun must be avoided and regular water intake must be ensured in this season.
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