Heat causes dangerous situation for firefighters

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

HOXIE, AR (KAIT) - With heat indices in the triple digits, it can be dangerous for people who have to work outside.

And while several jobs require workers to spend long hours out in the sun, but adding in a fire that is burning several hundred degrees hotter can make for a very scary situation.

Hoxie Fire Chief Chris Ditto was battling a house fire Saturday afternoon.

While the high temperature was 91 degrees that day, Ditto estimated it was more than 300 degrees in the blaze.

"What goes through your mind, you're just hoping you don't die," Ditto said. "After fighting the fire for three hours, I knew something was wrong. I never took a break."

Ditto starting to feel a fluttering in his chest and he had severe fatigue. His heart began to race, reaching close to 180 beats per minute.

"You get the cottonmouth, the dizziness, the headache," Ditto said. "That's what hurts the worst, the headache."

He was rushed to the emergency room, where they began administering fluids and running several tests.

Ditto was severely dehydrated and suffering from heat exhaustion, which caused damage to his heart.

But it's not just firefighters who can experience a heat illness during the peak summer months.

"The main thing to remember is just to take it easy when you go out in the heat," Dr. Sam Palmer with NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at A-State said. "Don't overdo it. Try to remember to drink and stay cool."

Dr. Palmer said to drink water anytime you feel thirsty, especially when you are sweating.

"It depends on the person and the level of exertion, how much you're doing, for how much you need to drink," Palmer said.

You should also take a break if you experience any signs of heat exhaustion.

"You could also be feeling very tired, cramping, nausea as well," Palmer said. "Cramping could be in the stomach, it could also be in the muscles."

And if you get the point where you have a high fever, confusion, or pass out, you need to go to the emergency room because it could lead to organ damage.

For Ditto, this is his second time dealing with a heat illness.

He had a heat stroke while fighting a structure fire about seven years ago. While he hasn't slowed down much since then, he might not have a choice now.

"Now the doctor is saying I have to slow down," Ditto said. "This could be a career breaker for me. We're still going through the process of testing and seeing if I can continue to fight fires."

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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