D.C. heat wave 2012: Heat affects residents, tourists and Metro
Around 2 p.m. Wednesday, Carlos Gonzales called 911 from the BW Parkway near Riverdale Road. His 25-year-old friend began to have trouble breathing. He felt numbness and tingling throughout his body.
The men were driving from Florida to New Jersey without air conditioning. And Gonzales's friend had also not been eating or drinking. As a result, he got dehydrated.
“The heat got to him and then he just started to freeze with his hands up. So it was really bad,” Gonzalez says. “It was pretty hot. I mean it was like 110 down there in Florida and then coming back up it was pretty hot.”
As the temperatures rise, Prince George's County Fire and EMS receives more and more heat-related calls. Most of the calls are for dehydration or heat exhaustion. In many cases, they involve people working outside who forget how hot it is.
They also often get calls for the homeless.
Around noon, they found a 50-year-old man barely conscious outside a shopping center. Paramedic Larry Frelow, of Upper Marlboro, checked the man's vital signs and found he was badly dehydrated. A routine call, but still one that could have saved this man's life.
Frelow gave him oxygen on the way to the hospital.
“If nobody showed up, basically he would just go unconscious and, worst case scenario, he would die,” he says.
Beyond the residents, the rescue workers themselves often suffer from the heat. But they consider it worth it.
“It affects us a great deal because we're wearing all of our professional protective equipment,” says Richard Patterson, Lieutenant at the Prince George's Fire Department. “We're just here to serve the public and help out to the best of our abilities.”
Problems are also reported for commuters in the Metro system.
Too often, too many Metro cars are operating during this heat wave without air conditioning.
Cecil Hoffman reached her boiling point Wednesday, tired of riding in hot cars.
She voiced her frustration to the conductor, who said that they have no control over the air conditioning.
The heat wave has had a big impact on the rail system. Metro admits it’s taken its toll on keeping cars cool. Metro officials say they've made progress reducing the number of hot cars.
The heat is also an ongoing battle on train platforms. Some stations have air conditioning, others have fans. Metro has additional engineers on duty checking the temperature throughout stations.
But with triple digit temperatures above ground, it’s been a losing battle underground for Metro riders to stay cool.