By Town of Queen Creek

The monsoon is here, and emergency departments are gearing up to treat more patients because of the summer storm season.

When the storms hit, EDs can treat anything from car-accident and drowning victims, people who have difficulty breathing and those caught unaware by heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

“Monsoon is a busy time for the ER,’’ says Zach Bair (pronounced “bear’’), DO, assistant medical director of Banner Desert Medical Center, the nation’s fifth busiest emergency department. “Not just the monsoon itself but everything that comes with it.’’

“We will see more motor accidents during this time of the year, around the holidays and around bad storms. When visibility is decreased, your reaction time comes more into play and you are more likely to get into accident,’’ he says.

Emergency responders suggest that if drivers encounter bad dust storms, they should pull off the roads and turn off their lights. 

Desert storms can also bring highly localized bursts of rain such as microbursts.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize that a flash flood can occur anywhere even if it is not raining over your head,’’ Bair said “We have definitely seen our share of near drownings and drownings as a result, so it is always a good idea to avoid crossing or getting in moving water.’’

People with chronic respiratory conditions who happen to be out during a dust storm will feel the effects immediately.

“People with COPD or emphysema, chronic bronchitis and asthmatics tend to have problems, when those dust storms get moving,’’ he said.