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Biden administration unveils a tool for tracking heat-related illness

The tracker aims to help local authorities gain deeper insights into the populations most susceptible to heat-related illnesses or fatalities.
Biden administration unveils a tool for tracking heat-related illness
Posted at 2:38 PM, Aug 09, 2023

A relentless heat dome continues to scorch the U.S., stretching from Florida to Texas.

Feel-like heat indexes are strikingly high in Miami at 114 degrees Fahrenheit, Orlando at 115, Dallas at 112, Austin at 113, and a staggering 120 degrees could potentially be felt in Baton Rouge Wednesday. Since Jul. 29, temperatures have soared beyond 100 degrees, shattering records with an unbroken streak of 11 days so far.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no relief in sight for the foreseeable future, with the climate crisis intensifying heat waves and increasing their frequency across the nation.

Which is why Wednesday, the Biden administration unveiled a new federal system to track the responses of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to heat-related illnesses throughout the nation.

"Heat is no longer a silent killer. From coast-to-coast, communities are battling to keep people cool, safe, and alive due to the growing impacts of the climate crisis," said Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra in a statement.

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The "EMS HeatTracker," run by the Department of Health and Human Services in collaboration with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, aims to support public health officials in guaranteeing that outreach and medical assistance effectively reach those most vulnerable during heat-related emergencies.

"Heat is the most lethal of all types of extreme weather, and heat exposure is worsening with increasing global warming," said Dr. John Balbus, acting director of the DHHS Office of Climate Change and Health Equity. "But existing data on heat-related deaths don’t shed light on where people actually fall ill. This new dashboard makes it possible to see where the needs are greatest, plan for the future, and save lives."

According to the agencies, the tracker will identify the patient’s age, race, gender, and "urbanicity." This will enable local authorities to gain deeper insights into the populations most susceptible to heat-related illnesses or fatalities.

Data tracked by the National Weather Service says that more people die from extreme heat in the U.S. than from floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes combined.


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