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Thunderstorm asthma claims three lives

AAP logoAAP 23/11/2016

MELBOURNE REELS FROM THUNDERSTORM ASTHMA TRAGEDY:

WHAT IS THUNDERSTORM ASTHMA?

An epidemic of asthma symptoms during or immediately following a thunderstorm

WHAT CAUSED MONDAY'S EVENT?

* Pollen blew into the city during the blustery day from the state's northern pastures

* Pollen grains absorbed moisture during the evening thunderstorms and then burst into hundreds of tiny allergenic fragments

* Those tiny fragments are small enough to penetrate deep into the airways, thus causing asthma

WHO DIED?

* Apollo Papadopoulos, 35

* Hope Carnevali, 20

* Omar Moujalled, 18

HOW MANY CALLS TO EMERGENCY SERVICES?

* 1900 triple zero calls for ambulances from 6pm to 11pm - normally there'd be about 345 calls in that time

* Most nights Ambulance Victoria has 10 to 20 cases on hold but at one point on Monday about 190 cases were waiting

* Last similar event in Melbourne was November 2010

* Most calls were for patients in Melbourne's west

* People had asthma who'd never previously experienced breathing issues

* Paramedics called in help from the MFB, police and doctors to deal with the spike in demand

WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT RESPONSE?

* The Inspector-General of Emergency Management will lead a statewide review of the emergency response to Monday night's event

* Ambulance Victoria will also hold an internal review

Quotable quotes:

* "This was like having a hundred bombs go off in different places all over Victoria.... All of them were life threatening cases," Health Minister Jill Hennessy

* "Our commitment to those families is we will learn from what's gone on here - we will make the necessary improvements," Premier Daniel Andrews

* "We essentially had a day's workload within five hours," Ambulance Victoria's executive director emergency operations Mick Stephenson

* "We don't blame the paramedics because they do a fantastic job," Hope's uncle, John Carnevali

Sources: Ambulance Victoria, Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, Melbourne Pollen and Deakin University, Victorian Government.

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