SELMA, Ore. – Health issues can arise for firefighters who work in extreme conditions and those fighting one of the biggest fires in the region near Selma, are being treated for poison oak rashes and blisters.
“A lot of these crews on this specific fire are from the Mid-West, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri and they don’t have poison oak back there,” Carl Varak, the Medical Unit Leader explained.
Though they’re treating only minor injuries so far, the medical team is prepared for major injuries.
“The most used item on the forest fire is this,” Steven Denney, Incident Medical Manager, said. “It’s mole skin. It’s used to patch blisters on feet. We do about 75 feet every morning, individual people’s feet.
“Folks that have respiratory or chest ailments, even to the point of heart attacks are treated initially in anticipation till an ambulance shows up, then they’re treated obviously to a greater care facility,” Varak added.
But the team doesn’t anticipate any major problems like respiratory issues.
“Most of them are younger, healthy, strong individuals and they just deal with it better,” Varak said.
The facility used is sterile with insulated roofs and sides.
“It’s very unusual for us to be able to have these buildings,” Denney said. “Most fires don’t have them, an individual can come here off the line and we can start an IV and treat them for dehydration and exhaustion.”
The medical team also has access to a helicopter if a firefighter needs to be air lifted from a remote location. That helicopter is stationed at the Medford air tanker base.