Unprecedented heat has led Phoenix authorities to adopt new measures AFP

Arizona authorities are resorting to ice baths in hopes of saving heat stroke victims in a city that has seen hundreds of heat-related deaths last year. Starting this season, the hottest big city in the country will implement the measure as a go-to protocol while taking victims to the hospital.

According to Fire Captain John Prato, the technique can drastically lower body temperature within minutes. "Just last week we had a critical patient that we were able to bring back before we walked through the emergency room doors," Prato told The Associated Press. "That's our goal — to improve patient survivability."

The measures are implemented as a heat wave continues to hit large parts of the country's south, with the central part of the state gearing up for temperatures that could top 110 °F (43.3 °C) in the following days.

Authorities have warned about "potentially life-threatening heat-related illnesses due to a change in the weather pattern that will result in triple-digit temperatures during the region's first summer heat wave."

This weather is seen as a major heat hazard; excessive exposure can lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion and, if left untreated, heat stroke.

Maricopa county authorities reported 645 heat-related deaths last year, most of them in phoenix during a period where temperatures didn't drop below 110 °F for 31 consecutive days. 40% of those who get severe heat illnesses don't survive.

In recent months, Mexico and the United States have been experiencing the El Niño phenomenon, which causes sea surface temperatures to be warmer than average, affecting the climate worldwide.

As ocean temperatures rise, this phenomenon heats up the atmosphere and alters wind circulation patterns that travel from one continent to another.

The phenomena gets more common as global temperatures continue to heat up. Earth recorded all-time highs last year, and 92% of the increases were caused by humans, according to a group of scientists.

However, last year's temperatures were so drastically higher than before that the group has been deliberating whether it can only be attributed to humans. If you look at this world accelerating or going through a big tipping point, things aren't doing that," said Piers Forster, one of the scientists. "Things are increasing in temperature and getting worse in sort of exactly the way we predicted."

Concretely, 2023 was 1.43 degrees hotter than pre-industrial levels, with 1.31 degrees explained by human activity. The remaining percentage can be explained by El Niño. Scientists said that it could take less than five years to reach the acceptable threshold for warming: the 1.5°C agreed upon in the Paris Agreements.

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