MESA, Ariz. (July 2, 2019) – It’s not just fireworks that bring people to the Emergency department (ED) during this patriotic holiday. Throughout this holiday weekend, ED-providers treat a little of everything including injuries, accidents, dehydration, extreme intoxication, burns and sunburns, drownings and near drownings.
And it’s not only the Fourth that is busy. The fifth of July also brings a lot of traffic to the ED, says Zach Bair, DO, assistant director of the Emergency department at Banner Desert Medical Center, which is the fifth-busiest ED in the country.
“Ironically, it is usually the day after the holiday that is the busiest time for us. It’s the day after, people realize just how hurt they really are or how much something does hurt,’’ he said.
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“Oftentimes a sunburn doesn’t really reveal how serious it is until the next day or so,’’ he said.
There are several reasons for the Fourth-of-July busyness, Bair says.
“Typically, people would assume that you are going to get a lot of firework injuries and we do see a fair number of burns from fireworks, but we also see a lot of injuries and accidents related to alcohol consumption, water issues, swimming and near drowning and motor vehicle accidents all related to the holiday.’’
“Fourth of July is busy for a combination of factors. It is due to people partying and drinking a lot of alcohol and large crowds outside doing active things.
“So, we see a lot more injuries than you would during New Year’s,’’ he said.
Bair outlines different types of injuries seen in the ED:
Burns: Burns typically happen on the hands when someone holds a firework too long. Sometimes there are injuries to the face but usually not too severe.
Alcohol intoxication: “We see all types of things due to intoxication: people involved in assaults due to intoxication, people getting sunburns, drowning and near drowning and even what we call extreme intoxication from taking in too much alcohol.’’
Extreme intoxication: “They can come in with respiratory suppression, in other words not breathing very well and, in some cases, we actually have to intubate them and put them on a machine that can help them breathe until they metabolize the alcohol and get into a safer spot.’’
Dehydration: “During Fourth of July, people are out later during the day and oftentimes, they are not hydrating the way that they should and so heat-related injuries are going to be more common.
“Alcohol is a diuretic so you might be urinating more frequently but also when you are drinking alcohol, you are not drinking straight water.’’
Other metro Phoenix Banner Health Emergency departments, including Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix and Banner Thunderbird Medical Center, also report that Fourth of July can be a very busy time for them as well.