In broiling cities like New Orleans, the health system faces off against heat stroke

As the hour creeps past three in the afternoon, New Orleans’ streets are devoid of tourists and locals alike. The heat index is over 105 degrees.

At the city’s ambulance depot, the concrete parking lot seems to magnify the sweltering heat, circulating the air like a convection oven.

New Orleans Emergency Medical Services has been busy this summer, responding to heat-related emergency calls and rushing patients to nearby hospitals.

Capt. Janick Lewis and Lt. Titus Carriere demonstrate how they can load a stretcher into an ambulance using an automated loading system.

Lewis wipes sweat from his brow as the loading arm whirs and hums, raising the stretcher into the ambulance — “unit” in official terminology.

But the mechanical assistance isn’t the best thing about the new vehicle. “The nicest thing about being assigned a brand new unit, is it’s a brand-new air conditioning system,” Lewis says.

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