By Shirin Rajaee

SOLANO COUNTY (CBS13) — As the Atlas Fire rages, forcing thousands of evacuations, Solano County is working to meet the medical needs of fire victims.

Hospitals in the region are seeing an influx of patients with respiratory issues and those in need of medical attention.

“We were grabbing papers and pictures, and just forgot the meds we need daily,” said Kirk Rimme.

Rimme and his daughter are among the dozens of Green Valley evacuees seeking shelter at Solano Community College and one of many who forgot to grab their medication in the hectic rush to get out.

“They do have a tent set up inside the shelter from Kaiser, and they had a motorhome handling medical needs,” said Rimme.

The Solano County Public Health Department is managing the need.

“We have equipment and medication brought to the shelter, we have healthcare personnel at the shelter pretty much all day long,” said health care officer Dr. Bela Matyas.

“I had my blood pressure taken because I had blood pressure medicine that I left in the car,” said evacuee Joyce Flanagan.

As healthcare professionals address the medical concerns inside the shelter, hospitals in the region are being inundated with patients coming to the ER impacted by smoke inhalation.

“Our clinics are full; our hospitals are full. Every bed is occupied now. What we’re seeing is a lot of folks having difficulty breathing many already asthmatic,” said Steve Huddleston with North Bay Health System.

North Bay Medical Center is sending two pulmonary therapists to Sonoma County to help the overwhelmed hospitals while trying to maintain their own staffing.

“We’re not only trying to take care of the community, but we also have doctors, and nurses, who are also victims of the fire, they’ve been evacuated and displaced,” said Huddleston.

The poor air quality is causing respiratory problems for many, even for those not in the fire zones.

And health officials are urging everyone to take the symptoms seriously.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re in Sacramento, Solano, or Napa, if you’re experiencing chest pains, labored breathing, you do need to get to an emergency room quickly,” said Dr. Matyas.

In the last 24 hours, 71 people went to emergency rooms in Solano County for respiratory issues, eight have been hospitalized.


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