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CDC: Heat wave sent thousands to emergency departments across Pacific Northwest

There were 2,779 emergency department visits for heat-related illness at hospitals during the hottest days in June.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Emergency departments across the Pacific Northwest saw 2,779 visits for heat-related illness during the heat wave in June, according to newly released data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The report analyzes emergency department trends for U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Region 10, which includes Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. 

On June 28, a day when temperatures reached 116 degrees across the Portland metro area, Region 10 saw 1,038 heat-related emergency department visits. 

For comparison, the same date in 2019 had nine emergency department visits for heat-related illness across the entire region.

Region 10 includes approximately 4% of the U.S. population but accounted for nearly 15% of the total emergency department visits for heat-related illness nationwide in June.

The CDC's analysis found men and those over the age of 75 were among the most affected groups.

As hospital emergency departments swelled, Portland's Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC), saw a surge of 911 calls related to the heat.

According to data obtained through a public records request, BOEC received over 240 calls related to heat incidents between June 24-30. 

Notes from the calls show many dialed 911 on their own behalf, fearing they were suffering from heat stroke. Others called 911 to check on friends and relatives, requesting welfare checks for loved ones they hadn't heard from.

It's still unclear whether anyone who died from the heat wave called 911 in the days or hours prior.

State officials reported 116 confirmed and suspected deaths in Oregon caused by the heat wave last June. 

The Washington Department of Health (DOH) said that 91 people likely died because of the historic heat wave.