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Helping the Unhoused During the Heat Wave in Oakland

The heatwave is hitting the homeless population hard, with many unable or unwilling to leave their homes on the street. 

In Oakland, the “MACRO” teams come in, that’s the city’s Mobile Assistance Community Responders unit, that sends crews out to some of the city’s most vulnerable populations to bring potentially life-saving resources. 

“We are with the MACRO program just giving out some water,” said Rick Fitzsimmons, EMT with MACRO.

In close to triple-digit temperatures, the simple interactions can make all the difference for people who are battling the heat on the streets of Oakland. 

“The heat will drain your energy,” said Donald, who is unhoused. “You have to stay hydrated and have the right nutrients.”

The city’s pilot program sends an EMT and resource specialist to respond to non-emergency calls.

“It’s great having someone looking to see if you are OK or not, need water and let me know that I’m worth it,” said Alex, who is unhoused. 

Lately, they’ve been spending their days helping the unhoused during the heat wave. 

“Signs of heat stroke, of dizziness and things like that we are seeing an increase already,” said Fitzsimmons.

The team is increasing their crews in an effort to give out more water, food and services to find people shelter. 

The goal is to prevent an emergency before it happens. 

“We have many folks out here in their 70s and 80s,” said Fitzsimmons.”That alone when it’s almost 100 degrees can be a problem. Then with untreated hypertension or diabetes things like that, the heat makes it much worse.”

From underpasses to parks, Rob Hanna and his team visit the same spots multiple times throughout the day, to make sure people are alright. 

“It makes a big difference because now the Oakland Fire Department doesn’t have to come out,” said Hanna. “MACRO can get there on scene and be able to offer them some water or even help them move into the shade.”

An effort that those in need said go far beyond their physical health. 

“Sometimes you just need fellowship with people, not necessarily the water,” said Donald. 

Source: NBC Bay Area

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