DC Fire adds ambulances expecting a jump in heat-related calls

WASHINGTON — The District is treating this heat wave as an emergency and it’s all hands on deck, especially for paramedics and EMTs added to handle what’s expected to be a busy weekend of calls.

“You know it’s hot. We know it’s hot. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate,” said D.C. Fire Chief Gregory Dean.

Standing in the sun, Dean talked about the anticipated jump in medical calls due to the heat. Dean added an extra four ambulances on duty Friday, and there are five extra crews on the streets Saturday, Sunday and Monday when the heat is expected to be the highest.

The increase in units is part of the city’s heat emergency plan that goes into effect when the temperature or heat index hit 95 degrees, Director of Homeland security and Emergency Management Chris Geldart said Friday.

“We have 39 in service everyday. This will get us to 44 and 43,” Dean said.

The additional units serve two purposes — to meet the expected higher call demand and to ensure D.C. firefighters and paramedics get a break from the heat.

“They’ve got their gear on, they’ll be encapsulated. They’ll get hot, and we’ll have to rotate them out,” Dean said of his fear of firefighters responding to multiple calls without a break.

Expecting a jump in medical calls, Dean says the extra five units are in rotation until they are needed. As for American medical Response vehicles supplementing the District’s emergency response, Dean said he had been in contact with the agency.

“AMR is expected to meet their need. We’ve talked to them and we assume they’ll be adding additional staff to meet the needs of the call volume,” Dean said.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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