August 17, 2023

New Dashboard to Track EMS Responses to Heat Illnesses Across the U.S.

The new Heat-Related Illness EMS Activation Surveillance Dashboard, known for short as EMS HeatTracker, will track emergency medical services (EMS) responses to heat-related illnesses across the United States. The online information portal is intended to help public health officials and other decision-makers prioritize interventions for communities most affected by extreme heat, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HHS’ Office of Climate Change and Health Equity created EMS HeatTracker in partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the dashboard will include data from the National EMS Information System, which is maintained by NHTSA. EMS HeatTracker will focus on EMS responses resulting from 911 calls for heat-related illnesses and injuries in the pre-hospital setting, the dashboard’s home page explains.

EMS HeatTracker will be updated weekly on Mondays, and the information displayed will have a two-week lag behind real time. Users will be able to compare county- and jurisdiction-level information to national averages in categories such as the population rate of heat-related EMS activations within a community and the percentage of patients who were transported to a medical facility for further treatment. But the dashboard will only track the number of heat-related EMS responses and deaths for patients who were alive when EMS officials arrived on scene.

“It does not include information for patient fatalities that occurred prior to EMS arrival on scene or fatalities with no EMS response, making it an underestimate of the number of heat-related deaths in the U.S.,” HHS’ press release states.

According to HHS, EMS HeatTracker “will continue to evolve” as more data become available.

The dashboard can be viewed via the National EMS Information System website. Further information is available in the HHS press release.

Related: Articles published in The Synergist discuss how to reduce heat burden from personal protective equipment and other factors, critical factors for heat stress assessment and prevention, and wearable sensors for heat stress management.