St Vincent’s Implements Extreme Heat Protocol for Homeless

St Vincent’s Implements Extreme Heat Protocol for Homeless

13 Dec 2016

In light of the Bureau of Meteorology’s weather forecasts for the next 2 days, St Vincent’s Hospital and the City of Sydney have implemented their extreme heat protocol for the inner-city homeless population it treats.

Hot weather and high overnight temperatures pose a particular risk for people sleeping rough especially those over 55 with pre-existing health conditions. St Vincent’s Hospital Homeless Health Team along with its partner Government and NGO agencies including City of Sydney, will patrol the area throughout Tuesday and Wednesday morning distributing water, sunscreen and information about heat illness and where to access shade. Standard temporary accommodation will also be available to anyone who contacts Link2home during this period.

Exposure to high temperatures can lead to serious deterioration of existing illnesses, cause serious permanent injuries as a result of untreated heat stroke, and in extreme cases result in death.

The St Vincent’s Homeless Health team are providing specialist medical staff to aid in identifying those at significant risk of hyperthermia. All Hospital staff are being encouraged to focus heavily on tracking the types of homeless presentations to the Hospital to try and ensure the existing services provided can mimimise heat-related illness including dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and worsening of existing medical conditions this summer.

It is very important that a person’s body temperature stays in the range of 36.1 – 37.8°C. If body temperature rises above this, a person may develop heat-related illness. When the weather is very hot, the body has to work very hard and produce a lot of sweat to keep itself cool. It is more difficult for a person to sweat if it is humid, or if the person is already dehydrated.

The Hospital is urging the community to drink plenty of water (1 cup about every 30 minutes) and minimise caffeine, fizzy drinks and alcohol. For those clients in accommodation, the Hospital is hoping they can keep cool by staying indoors.

“For the broader community, we ask that everyone looks out for their neighbours and provides any support of shelter, water and sunscreen as required,” said Matt Larkin, Manager of St Vincent’s Homeless Health.

The City of Sydney is working with St Vincent’s and partner agencies to help people sleeping rough to access water, sunscreen, shade, temporary accommodation and health services.

“City staff and specialist homelessness services are on patrol in the city, providing advice and support to rough sleepers. Special support is being given to rough sleepers over the age of 55 and those with pre-existing health conditions,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“The City’s community centres and libraries will also be open, providing a safe and comfortable space to escape the heat.”


What: Media Conference featuring Matt Larkin, Manager Homeless Health and Danielle Austin, Incident Response Manager

When: 02:00 AM Tuesday 13 December 2016

Where: Outside St Vincent’s Hospital Ambulance Bay, Victoria Street Darlinghurst

For more information contact David Faktor, Director of Media and Communications on 0405497510 or leave a message in the form below.


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