Paramedics have been swamped with calls after gusty winds combined with extreme pollen levels to cause breathing problems for asthmatic Victorians.
A severe thunderstorm swept through Melbourne yesterday after the state’s hottest day since March, damaging a number of buildings.
Firefighters and police had to help Ambulance Victoria officers respond to numerous calls after the conditions caused a spike in asthma and respiratory cases.
Ambulance Victoria emergency operations general manager Mick Stephenson said there 2,000 calls to triple-0 for ambulances between 6:00pm and 11:00pm — nearly seven times more than usual.
Sixty ambulance crews were called back into work and managers went out on the road, he added.
Kathy Bowlen from St Vincent’s Hospital said Monday night was one of the busiest the hospital had seen.
“We were considering opening a second emergency department … we ended up doing that using the day procedures area.
“We ran out of Ventolin puffers at one point.
“The emergency physicians say not only have they never seen anything like that before, they’ve never seen so many people arrive at one time all suffering the same condition.”
Asthma Victoria chief executive Robin Auld said people allergic to rye grass were particularly susceptible to “thunderstorm asthma”.
“Particularly, in this season, if you’ve got allergic reaction, keep up your preventer medication [and] talk to your doctor about the best way to use your medication,” he said.
“Also, if you start to have symptoms, that’s where your blue puffer comes into play.”
Hundreds of calls for building damage
The State Emergency Service (SES) received 430 calls for building damage.
Most were from Melbourne’s west, but one family had to be relocated after a tree crashed through their house at Dunolly in central Victoria.
Altona Meadows resident Marie Clement has lost all the tiles from a section of her roof.
“The noise was unbelievable, it was truly unbelievable,” he said.
“The chairs were shooting past the family room window, the garden chairs — it was very frightening indeed.”
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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