Nightly News   |  July 18, 2013

Emergency rooms fill with heat-related maladies

At St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, more than half of calls to paramedics were heat-related. Air quality warnings have spread along the East Coast, which has endured days of stifling heat. NBC’s Stephanie Gosk reports.

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>>> good evening. and now this heat wave we have been covering turns fatal that makes what is even tradition lit hottest week of sumner some very big u.s. cities a very different matter. now, half the country, 24 states, are under heat advisories and warnings. it's just plain brutal from the population centers in the east to the fires burning in the west. we have all of it covered tonight. we want to begin with nbc's stephanie gosk in brooklyn , new york, on a hot thursday night in the city . stephanie , good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian this is a pretty good place to cool off if you are a kid in new york. today was actually the hottest day so far. jfk airport hit 100 degrees. that's record for july 18. but it was rough all over. enough is enough. all along the east coast and stretching through the plains, people are crying uncle. already tough, hot jobs are unbarable. engine 221 was called to a blaze in brooklyn . a fire like that needs more firefighters.

>> need to rotate them more frequently.

>> reporter: 85 pounds of gear. joe decker was sweating bullets just showing it to us. gear in here, too?

>> tools, a flashlight.

>> reporter: adding to the misery, air quality warnings along the east coast . officials warned people sensitive to ozone to spend less time outdoors. the dogs can suffer, too. in chicago, lake michigan is an irresistible draw.

>> usually doesn't like the beach but with this hot weather , even she is going in the water.

>> reporter: and emergency rooms in multiple cities, including st. barnabas in the bronx, doctors are seeing the compound effect of five days of 90-plus temperatures. more than half calls these paramedics get in the bronx are heat related.

>> your body isn't used to the 100-degree weather. it comes out of nowhere and you just pass out.

>> reporter: in alabama, a 1-year-old died after being left in the car by his mother. emergency responders couldn't save him.

>> what's remarkable about this heat wave is how long it's lasting. for example, in new york city , you look at 150 summers and we have only had a stretch of heat like this 20 times.

>> reporter: mark thompson feels like he is fighting a losing battle, trying to keep his freezers running at the brooklyn ice cream factory.

>> it's kind of a love/hate relationship with heat. the ice cream business needs the warm weather but when it's this hot, nobody even wants to come outside.

>> reporter: for now the ice cream is still frozen, and the good news is the worst of the heat may soon be over. only one day of this weather lasting, on saturday, i will probably be standing right here until then. brian?

>> stephanie goes income brooklyn for us tonight. thanks.