A RISE in cases of heat stroke and dehydration kept staff at a local Sydney hospital busy as last week’s record heatwave took its toll.
Hornsby Hospital’s emergency department had over a 12 per cent increase in patients as the sweltering conditions and exhausting heat continued over seven days – this is longest stretch of 30C-plus temperatures since records began in 1858.
“Three presentations were diagnosed as heat stroke, heat collapse or heat exhaustion,” a hospital spokesman said.
“An additional 14 presentations were diagnosed as dehydration.
“While some patients were not specifically diagnosed with heat stroke or dehydration, their attendance was attributed to exacerbated health problems associated with the extreme weather.”
A spokeswoman for the Sydney Adventist Hospital said they had a small increase in patients.
“A few people were admitted with dehydration,” she said.
NSW Ambulance said there were five local heat-related incidents last week: one in Hornsby, two at Dural on February, and one each at St Ives and St Ives Chase.
A spokesman said that was “just the tip of the iceberg”, as some cases such as a person breaking an arm after fainting would not be recorded as heat-related.
On Sunday afternoon a cool change brought relief to workers like Hornsby chef Sean Fitzgerald, of Rails Restaurant, and Asquith electrician Michael Bridcutt, of Active Electrical.
“The heat outside is oppressive. It completely surrounds you (and) it’s draining,’’ Mr Fitzgerald said, while adding that he had got used to heat in kitchens over the years.
But Mr Bridcutt said in his 30 years on the job it was the worst conditions he had experienced.
At one point he checked the thermometer on his phone while working in a roof and it read an astounding 64C, he said.
“I’d consume a bottle of water an hour or I’d get dizzy. The beginning of the week was tough but by the end of it I was getting around all right,” he said. The need for air conditioning in such area is an absolute must and would have reduced the need for hospitalization in a big way