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'We'll be ready:' Shaler Township EMS preparing for another day of poor air quality

Shaler Township EMS preparing for another day of poor air quality
Shaler Township EMS preparing for another day of poor air quality 01:56

SHALER TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — Paramedics and EMTs in the Pittsburgh area are on alert for calls they may receive for breathing issues due to poor air quality from wildfires hundreds of miles away.

On Thursday, Pittsburgh awoke to a hazy, orange sunrise on another day of low air quality. Smoke and haze are in the sky from the hundreds of wildfires burning in Canada.

The National Weather Service said Friday is another Code Orange Air Quality Alert day. 

"If we see an increase in those calls today, we'll be ready to take care of them," said Eric Schmidt, Chief of Shaler Hampton EMS.

Chief Schmidt and his crews are hoping the nice, comfortable weather will be on their side. He said if it was hotter outside, the situation would be worse.

"Really we think about it in summer because when it gets hot and humid, we see these people anyways people with respiratory complaints in increasing numbers so just add another element to it, but we'll treat them the same," he said.

This type of air quality can cause children, teens, older adults, and people with medical issues to suffer.

"People asthmatics, people with COPD, those kinds of issues, especially when they get outside, get exposed to more irritants, it might cause a problem," Schmidt said.

Those sensitive groups are advised to limit outdoor activities until the air clears.

Schmidt said it wouldn't hurt to mask up if you're prone to respiratory issues.

If you do experience symptoms like trouble breathing or chest pain, EMS crews are just a phone call away.

"First we're going to do an assessment, understand what the problem is, certainly oxygen is part of the picture, find out their oxygen levels are low, we can put that on pretty quickly and help turn people around. We have medications we can give starting with Bronchodilators," Schmidt said.

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