Valley EMS Crews See an Increase in Calls for Respiratory Problems

July 11, 2008 8:27:28 PM PDT
Health officials blame smoke from fires and the rise in temperatures here in the Valley for these respiratory problems.Compared to last year at this time emergency crews are responding to more calls for people with trouble breathing.

For the past three weeks smog has covered the Valley floor creating serious health concerns. Ambulance and fire crews have been busy responding to respiratory calls...patients complaining of difficulty breathing. On June 1st when the temperature was 85 degrees, the Fresno fire department responded to 22 difficulty breathing calls.

On June 19th, when the temperature hit 101 the number was the same. But Thursday July 10th when the temperature reached a record 112 degrees, the number of calls shot up to 30.

Fresno fire Captain Karey Wedemeyer blames the rise in calls on smoke from fires around the state combined with higher ozone levels. Wedemeyer said: "When the air quality from the smoke was so bad we had multiple difficulty breathing calls ranging from very young to very old."

Jaime Holt said: "It's just really a tough environment for people to be outside."

Holt, with the Valley Air District, said there's already been 3 or 4 "red flag" days this summer warning air quality was "unhealthy" for everyone.

"They're not the highest pollution levels ever, but they are high. They're the type of pollution we only may see maybe once or twice a summer," said Holt.

Cardiologist Dr. Rohit Sandrani warned no one in the Valley is immune to problems related to poor air quality. Sandrani said: "In preexisting conditions it aggravates it much more. In the people we don't know and don't have other problems it is being, there is suggestion that it is going to make them progress their other issues from the heart and vascular system."

The Air District believes cooler temperatures over the next week will help lower the number of "unhealthy" days we have, and hopefully reduce breathing problems across the Valley.


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