Phoenix fire: 911 calls up in record heat

A week of intense heat can make for a very trying week at the 911 call centers.

PHOENIX - Phoenix Fire Department dispatchers are seeing an uptick in the number of calls due to the record heat in the Valley.

According to a dispatcher, the Phoenix Fire Department has had 134 heat-related calls since Monday, but they suspect the real number is closer to three times that. That's because they're only counting calls where the caller says the injury or illness is related to heat. Other calls, like a heart attack that could later be attributed to heat, would not be reported as heat-related, officials said. 

"The heat exacerbates everything," Phoenix Fire Captain Rob McDade said. "It's hard on everyone working outside, it's hard on the elderly, it's hard on the young."

Phoenix fire doesn't have extra dispatchers to call in either. So fire officials said if the phone lines are swamped, callers may have to be on hold until a dispatcher can answer. 

"Imagine that you have 400,000 people that had you on speed dial," dispatcher Michael Salazar said. "It's kind of the same thing."

But fire officials said being on hold is extremely rare. It usually takes a large event, like a massive monsoon storm, to tie of the lines, McDade said. 

McDade said firefighters usually assume calls will increase once the temperatures start to climb above 110 degrees. 

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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