Teen recovering from heat stroke

July 6, 2012 4:15:40 PM PDT
A 15-year-old boy is spending a second day in the hospital following a heat emergency in the Sam Houston National Forest.

It happened during a hiking trip, and his condition apparently became life-threatening quickly. Firefighters who rescued him say he suffered from heat stroke.

When New Waverly volunteer firefighters got a call for help from inside the Sam Houtson National Forest, a team of responders made their way hundreds of yards into the trees to save a 15-year-old boy.

"He was hiking in the forest with friends and family. They noticed he started to get overheated and they were concerned and called 911," firefighter Jimmy Williams said.

When paramedics got to him- they say the boy showed signs of overheating. He was dizzy, fatigued, sweating and had a rapid heart rate. But within minutes, his condition deteriorated and he stopped sweating -- the bridge between heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

"He became unconscious very quickly. Our firefighters recognized this and started advanced life support while they were still in the forest," Williams said.

Firefighters quickly carried the boy out of the forest and loaded him onto a Life Flight helicopter. He was taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital.

Williams says he's not sure how long the boy and his family were outside, but he said the boy is from out of state and not used to the Texas heat and humidity. That, coupled with his dehydrated state and physical exertion from hiking led to heat stroke.

"Obviously, deep in the woods with little air movement, it's just as bad. It's making the problem worse," Williams said.

Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat injury. It often starts out as a milder heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion, so it's important to know the symptoms.

The symptoms of heat exhaustion may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse. That's a result of your body overheating. You may be dizzy, have fatigue or a headache, nausea or muscle cramps.

When any of these symptoms happen, it's essential you get out of the heat immediately. The symptoms for heat exhaustion and heat stroke are very similar. The one major difference is the lack of sweating. When you're in the heat and no longer sweating, you need medical attention right away.

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