FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Normally on days with heat advisories people gameplan by turning down the AC and putting a generous amount of ice cream in the freezer.
But for first responders with Three Rivers Ambulance Authority (TRAA), cooling options are a little different.
“It’s either full blast or nothing,” said paramedic Dan Basting while laughing.
He was describing the air conditioning in the 2009 Ford Expedition that he drives as a ‘chase vehicle’ with TRAA.
And on days like Thursday, the AC was on full blast.
WANE 15’s Ethan Dahlen tagged along with Basting and Hayden Kamarck as they ran calls during one of the hottest stretches of the year on Thursday.
“The day starts off with our company, usually our management. They’ll send us emails the night before and the day of. They follow the weather pretty closely, and they’ll give us fair warning before the shift starts,” Basting said. “We have hydration stations set up for you at work. Personally, I like to pack a cooler with water Gatorade. The hospitals always have stuff available for us.”
But Basting quickly shared that even all of that prep isn’t enough, and frequent breaks in the shade are also a necessity.
“When we’re not on runs we try to find locations where we can park in the shade, let the breeze blow through, let the truck run on high idle to keep the AC compressor running,” Basting said. “It also starts in our fleet department, we have two really good mechanics, John and Tony that do a phenomenal job.”
Basting and Kamarck responded to a heat exposure call while WANE 15 was with them, one of several they said they heard on the radio over the past few days.
“His chief complaint was that he was feeling hot, he had also taken some meth today,” Kamarck said. “He’s got a jacket on and jeans, obviously clothing isn’t the most ideal for a 90-degree day, so not only dealing with a medical emergency that is heat related, but we’re also dealing with drug use as well.”
Kamarck took care of the patient until another ambulance arrived to take the patient to a hospital.
Following the heat exposure call, Kamarck and Basting showed WANE 15 what many hot days consist of, staying cool, hydrated, and making small talk to pass the time while waiting for a call.
“Some of the hospital dining halls actually have some really great food,” Basting said.
“Anything that Dan says is some real wisdom,” Kamarck said jokingly.
“We love to talk,” Basting said.
Their chatter in a pieced-together 2009 Ford Expedition showed what they really thought was the key to getting through a hot day, camaraderie with your partner.