Heatwaves, Population health, and emergency response in Adelaide, Australia: Lessons learnt

Bi. Peng, Arthur Saniotis, Monika Nitschke, Dino Pisaniello, Phil Weinstein, Kevin Parton, Gil-Soo Han

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Background: Heatwaves in the southern regions of Australia have received greater public health attention. An unprecedented heatwave occurred in Adelaide in early 2009, with maximum temperatures over 40 oC in 5 consecutive days. There was a 14-fold increase in hospital admissions, 2.4% increase in emergency department presentations, and 186 people died over five days. The present article is based on a qualitative study, which examines emergency stakeholder responses to the 2009 heatwave. Method: A qualitative interview was conducted in 2010. Interviews included the stakeholders from major Adelaide public hospitals, South Australian Ambulance Service, relevant South Australian Government Departments, Non- Government Organisations and other Service Providers. N Vivo has been used in data analysis.Findings: The results are presented in below sections: (1) the lack of organisation in emergency services responses to the 2009 heatwave was examined; (2) evening temperatures and their impact were explored; (3) coping strategies used by emergency services personnel were inspected; and (4) emergency services and challenges to population health were checked. The areas in emergency responses which need improvement as cited by key stakeholders were discussed, including (1) A more co-ordinated effort between emergency agencies in relation to their community responses; (2) Better management of triage patients during heatwaves which would prevent bottle-necks; (3) Increasing rest periods of emergency services staff and shorter working shifts in order to prevent fatigue; and (4) Greater clarification of heatwave trigger points in order to diminish misunderstanding by the public.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventInternational Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE) - Barcelona, Spain, Spain
Duration: 13 Sep 201116 Sep 2011


ConferenceInternational Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE)


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