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New technology attempts to save lives from heat-related deaths, as record-high temps grip nation

1 week 10 hours 1 minute ago Wednesday, July 10 2024 Jul 10, 2024 July 10, 2024 7:56 AM July 10, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - A new device aims to prevent heat-related deaths, as extreme temperatures continue across the nation. 

Millions of Americans have been under heat advisories in the last month due to extreme heat indexes as high as 110 degrees. Rising temperatures have led to an increase in heat-related illnesses. 

Heat-related deaths are predicted to increase 370% by the year 2050 according to The Lancet's countdown on health and climate change.

Baton Rouge EMS has already responded to 20 heat-related service calls this month. Brad Harris with EMS says they expect to receive at least 60 by the end of the month.

"Typically if there's a hurricane, we do see more heat-related injuries because of people being out of power, they don't have access to air conditioning or they're outside working on their yard picking up debris and that sort of thing so they become overheated," Harris said.

When dealing with these illnesses, Harris says EMS relies on IV fluids, air conditioning, and ice packs to get the patient back to normal body temperatures.

As first responders around the nation work to keep people safe in the record-breaking heat, a Los Angeles-based company says it's developed a new device to combat heat-related deaths. ColdVest is a one-time use vest its developers say can lower body temperatures in less than an hour. 

"An emergency response to heat stroke that lowers your core body temp from five to ten degrees in thirty minutes, stays cold for up to an hour, doesn't require any power, any ice, any electricity," founder of ColdVest Tracie Wagman said.

The vest only needs two liters of a non-carbonated cold liquid to work. 

Currently, the technology is being used for sports teams, the military, and construction workers.

Harris says he would be willing to try this out here in the state and for EMS' life-saving efforts.

"The normal body temp is 98.6 degrees so anytime you get over 105 degrees, that's when you could definitely have some deficits from that, so if you can lower someone's body temperature by five degrees, ten degrees, that can mean all the difference in the world. That could mean the difference between someone having lifelong debilitating effects from this vs walking out of the hospital," Harris said.

The only downside, says Harris, is the roughly $450 price tag.

"We consider this an emergency response to heat strokes. The equivalent to a defibrillator for heat strokes and defibrillators are very expensive and need to be re-upped, and so it's a little bit like 'what is the cost of a life?' A heat stroke event is rare but in the event that it happens, it's catastrophic," Wagman said.

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