Area hospitals see an increase in overheated patients

ST. LOUIS - Area hospitals are expecting to see an increase in overheated patients as the heat wave drags on. Helen Sandkuhl has been a registered nurse for 44 years. She now works at SSM SLU Hospital. She’s seen people overcome by heat and their temperature soared to 108 degrees.

“That is knocking on deaths door. A lot of people if they survive they have brain damage, so it’s very important to prevent that from happening,” Sandkuhl said.

With the help of an emergency room technician they showed how they cool down an overheated patient. After checking his body’s temperature they removed his clothing and then put a towel around his neck, they poured cold water over the towel which covered pressure points in the body.

“You put them on the neck where you have the big vessels, you put them in the armpits, you put them in the groin; that facilitates decreasing the body temperature," Sandkuhl said.

Barnes Jewish Hospital has seen 13 overheated patients in the past ten days. Back at SLU’s E.R. a sheet was also soaked with cold water, a fan was brought, and in some cases, if a person is dehydrated, an IV  is started.  But, they don’t want the temperature to drop more than about two degrees an hour.  Sandkuhl said if the  patient’s temperature drops too quickly the person could suffer a seizure. ​