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Smoke scourge: Big surge in 000 calls, face masks selling out

3aw mornings

Victoria’s paramedics are responding to a surge of breathing problems as bushfire smoke starts taking a health toll.

There was a 51 per cent increase in calls to 000 for breathing problems yesterday.

And Ambulance Victoria says patients weren’t over-reacting, with many case requiring urgent medical attention.

“Normally, some (cases) we can manage at home, but a very large proportion ended up travelling to hospital,” Justin Dunlop, the acting director of emergency management, told Heidi Murphy on 3AW.

Most cases were for the exacerbation of asthma symptoms.

“I suspect we also got people who were presenting (asthma symptoms) for the first time,” Mr Dunlop said.

The smoke is less thick in Melbourne on Tuesday, but the heavy haze is expected to return Thursday and Friday.

Melburnians have responded by buying face masks, which have sold out at many stores.

3AW called a pharmacy for a face mask, and was told to contact Bunnings.

Subsequent calls revealed several Bunnings outlets have sold out.

People should guard against exposure to smoke by taking some simple precautions:

  • Stay inside your house if possible; close all windows and doors
  • If you use an air conditioner switch it to “recycle” or “recirculate”
  • Avoid exercise.
  • Ordinary paper dust masks and handkerchiefs won’t filter out fine particles from bushfire smoke – use a special P2 or N95 filer mask, which you can get at a hardware store. Be sure it fits properly and you don’t have any medical issues that would prevent use.

Click PLAY to hear more health advice from Mr Dunlop

(Image: Getty)

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