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发布于:2019-7-13 16:17:11  访问:1435 次 回复:0 篇
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Neighbors Are Asked To Look In On The Elderly, And The City`s Human Services Department Has Response Teams That Answer Calls From Those Struggling With The Heat
Chicago has seen its share of deadly heat waves and is learning from past mistakes. The city has opened the heat command center here at 911 because of the report from the national weather service that there may be a heat index in the area of 110 degrees.
In Cook County four people died Wednesday from heat-related causes, bringing the death toll in the Chicago area to 19 so far this summer.
Local doctors say even young healthy people ages 25-45 are affected by heat, and they tend to ignore the symptoms.
City officials are especially concerned for seniors. Chicago has set up more than 100 cooling centers. Neighbors are asked to look in on the elderly, and the city`s human services department has response teams that answer calls from those struggling with the heat.
\"Whoever calls us we go and check senior citizens or disabled people and ask if they can function and do what they are supposed to do,\" says Don Murphy of the Chicago Human Services Emergency Response Unit.
Chicago`s heat-emergency plan is a result of the devastating heat wave of 1995. That summer more than 500 people died in a 5-day stretch from heat-related causes.
Dr. John Wilhelm is the city`s health department commissioner and he spoke with the Early Show about what Chicago is doing to protect its citizens from the heat.
Wednesday night there is a Radiohead concert going on just south of Buckingham Fountain where the organizers have brought in \"cooling tents\" and extra water and are encouraging concert goers to bring their own water. In addition, the city has kept pools open later and is not rushing to switch off open fire hydrants.
Regarding the 1995 deaths, Wilhelm says, \"Since the summer of 1995 one of the outgrowths of that crisis was a command center approach, which we use for extreme heat and cold, power outages, etcetera. It`s housed in the 911 communications center and is staffed as soon as a heat emergency (or cold emergency) is declared. It manages a coordinated response between all agencies responsible for public well-being. It includes health and human services, the police department, etcetera. We didn`t have this in 1995. We now have a very coordinated approach.\"
He adds, \"This is not an excuse. However, it must be noted that the weather in 1995 was unique . . . never before in the history of Chicago had all those weather conditions come together. Over the course of 4 days over 700 people died, but the whole world was hot that year. There is no standardized definition of a heat-related death. The weather conditions included high heat and humidity, no clouds, no cooling at night, and the rversal of the lake effect. Usually there is a nice cool breeze off the lake, but not then.
\"There are two major mechanisms that cool the body: One is to radiate heat . . . when it`s too hot, that can`t happen, Wilhelm says. \"The other is to evaporate perspiration, but when there is so much water in the air, you can`t do that either. When you have the two knocked out, vulnerable people succumb to the weather.\"
According to Wilhelm, the key to the Chicago plan is that, \"Through the command center approach and through the media, we make appeals for friends and neighbors to check on each other. We use city workers, `meals on wheels` workers, we work with public health services . . . anybody who is out in the neighborhood, we encourage them to make contact. Home visits are the best. We`re doing more phone calls. We have more volunteers. The postal service and the police are involved. There are `senior units` that keep track of seniors in Chicago.\"
\"For many, there isn`t acces to air conditioning. For many elderly, they don`t use it because they don`t want to spend the money on air conditioning. We encourage them to stay hydrated and take cool showers, but many still don`t, which is why we check on them,\" says Wilhelm.
Apparently the new approach is working. \"We`ve had tough summers since 1995. Back in `99 we had 82 deaths during one heat wave. We`ve had approximately 12 deaths in Chicago itself this year.\"
Chicago has also set up \"311\"--a nonemergency hotline for any problem. Citizens can use it to ask for a ride to a cooling center.
\"This is not about government response. This is about individual citizen response. The plan works. It could have backfired. It could have been interpreted as shifting the guilt, but it didn`t work that way,\" says Wilhelm.©MMII CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, 강랜 rewritten, or redistributed
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