Routine Reports From OC’s First Summer Heat Wave

OCEAN CITY – Ocean City and Worcester County certainly felt the effects of the heat wave that gripped much of the nation early this week, and although cool ocean temperatures and subtle breezes kept the climate fairly livable around the resort area, more than a few locals and visitors sought medical attention for heat-related illnesses.

Temperatures soared into the upper 90s throughout the early part of the week with head indexes creeping past the 100-degree mark for several days during the first real blast of summer heat this year. State health officials issued stern hot weather advisories and local power suppliers urged their customers to conserve energy to avoid rolling blackouts, but, by and large, the heat wave was more of an uncomfortable nuisance than a real emergency for most in the area.

Nonetheless, local medical offices did see a spike in the number of patients complaining of heat-related illnesses with varying degrees of severity. According to Dr. Victor Gong of the 75th Street and 126th Street Medical Centers, his offices handled a considerable number of heat-related illnesses during the three-day heat wave.

“We handled a large number of cases of heat exhaustion, heat cramps and dehydration,” he said. “We had a bunch in here earlier hooked up to IV’s to get their fluid levels back up because of dehydration.”

Gong said the patients treated were suffering from various heat-related illnesses with a wide range of severity, but he did not see any of the life-threatening illnesses associated with prolonged exposure to excessive heat.

“We didn’t see any cases of heat stroke, which is a medical emergency,” he said. “Heat stroke is a life-threatening illness during which the body temperature exceeds 104 degrees. When that happens, a victim should call their doctor and get to an emergency room immediately.”

Out on the beach, which was the coolest spot in the area all week, people took frequent dips in the ocean and huddled under umbrellas to combat the heat. According to Ocean City Beach Patrol Sgt. Josh Wasilewski, crews handled dozens of heat-related illnesses, but nothing too out of the ordinary for mid-July.

“Over the last few days, we have seen a spike in the number of heat-related illnesses, but it isn’t something we don’t deal with all the time,” he said. “It stays pretty consistent throughout the summer although we did handle quite a few this week.”

Wasilewski said the most common ailments the Beach Patrol sees are heat exhaustion and dehydration.

“Most people just don’t re-hydrate enough and they sit out in the baking heat and wonder why they don’t feel well,” he said. “They’re drinking fluids, but they are often drinking the wrong fluids.”