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Arizona Department of Health appoints first statewide Chief Heat Officer

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) – The Arizona Department of Health (DHS) has created a new role for the first time this year to better prepare for the heat.

The new position of statewide Chief Heat Officer will oversee Governor Hobbs' extreme heat preparedness plan.

In his new role, Arizona Chief Heat Officer Dr. Eugene Livar is studying the state's heat trends and data to prepare the population for whatever may come.

“We look at the National Weather Service Heat Risk Index and the reports that are being made in different areas of our state,” said Dr. Eugene Livar. “We also monitor heat-related illnesses that are occurring in our state and reported via syndromic methods. And then we look at EMS data on heat-related calls.”

Dr. Livar says he also works with local and state agencies and state heat working groups focused on heat-specific actions in the areas of shelter, energy, health and disaster relief, as well as how to fund the state initiatives.

Dr. Livar says he also hopes to act as a bridge between the community and local and state partners during and outside of heat season.

He says one of the ways they are engaging with the community is through their “Check on your family, friends and loved ones” campaign. They also have a heat alert system in place to keep people informed during the heat season.

“I think one of the things we know is that we're not going to solve all the problems and difficulties of the heat season in 6-12 months,” Dr. Livar said. “It's going to be a growing process year by year, and we hope that with each successive heat season we'll be in a better position.”

Anna Harden

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