Bedford County firefighters sent to hospital for heat-related issues

Bedford Fire and Rescue is reminding first responders to be safe in the heat.


BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. – In these sweltering temperatures, heat exhaustion can be a risk for anyone outdoors, especially firefighters. Controlling a blaze when it's 80 or 90 degrees outside is difficult enough but add in heavy gear and a fire suit and the task is even tougher.

"The suit is there to protect you from extreme heat which can reach anywhere from 800 to 1,200 degrees depending on what's involved, but in the same token, the suit actually extracts heat from your body and drains you," said Jack Arrington, Bedford County firefighter and EMT.

Just this week in Bedford County, the heat dangers hit home. On two separate fire calls, four firefighters were treated for heat-related issues. Two of those had to be transported because sometimes heat exhaustion is more than just weakness and fatigue.

"His symptoms were much more severe. He was cramping to the point where he was down on the ground and had difficulty getting up without help," said Jeff Pauley, Bedford County fire marshal. 

Firefighters say while the heat is sometimes hard to handle, they do their best to be prepared and that doesn't just mean hydration.

"We constantly have to stay in shape, we stay in shape by training with the gear on, getting used to the weight of the gear, getting used to working in extreme conditions, being hot and being cold," said Arrington. 

Drinking water, working out, and watching for the signs of heat exhaustion are key so firefighters can focus on the fight at hand.

"It's very important to let somebody know because if you fall out you become the next patient and it takes people away from the initial goal of taking care of the original emergency," said Mark Laprade, Bedford County firefighter and paramedic.