With temperatures soaring, as many as 2,783 people have suffered from heat stroke in the last three months in Marathwada and Vidarbha in Maharashtra. According to data from the Maharashtra Emergency Medical Services (MEMS) the highest number was from Amravati area.
“Heat stroke is a medical emergency and can be fatal if not promptly and properly treated,” said Dr Dnyaneshwar Shelke, chief operating officer of BVG India that runs MEMS. He added that with temperatures rising above 45 degrees, specially in Marathwada and Vidarbha regions, the heat action plan of the state was expected to bring down risk from heat-related illness by alerting people.
MEMS is a state-run project under the National Health Mission and operated by Bharat Vikas Group (BVG Limited) and UKSAS (United Kingdom). Symbiosis International Centre is the academic partner and is involved in training doctors. An emergency toll free number, 108, serves as the point of first contact for police and fire related emergencies. Shelke said the emergency response centre located at the district hospital, Aundh, too had physicians providing online medical direction for doctors on the ambulance during emergency calls. There are 937 ambulances stationed at strategic locations across the state.
In February, there were 801 patients from 19 districts in Marathwada and Vidarbha regions while March saw a rise in numbers. As many as 1,066 patients were served on an emergency basis by the MEMS, Dr Jyotsna Mane, Programme Manager of MEMS said. The ambulance service network under MEMS was utilised by 916 people in April this year.
There were 257 patients from Yavatmal, 208 from Aurangabad, 191 from Nagpur, 122 from Parbhani, 113 from Akola, 144 from Buldhana, and 159 from Chandrapur while districts like Beed, Hingoli, Jalna, Latur, Osmanabad, Bhandara, Gondia, Washim, Wardha and others had between 40 and 70 such patients.
During a heat stroke, there is an elevation in body temperature, often accompanied by dehydration. As part of state’s action plan, efforts have been taken to reduce harm from heat wave by initiating an early warning system for residents, providing preparation and training for medical and community workers, opening cooling centers, building public awareness of heat-related health risks, and coordinating inter-agency emergency response efforts.
Nagpur has been the first city in the state to implement the Heat Action Plan to raise awareness about heat stroke risk in schools and colleges and train health workers in identifying heat stress, dehydration and heat stroke.