Toasty on the tarmac: Sky Harbor Airport workers sweat it out - New York News

Toasty on the tarmac: Sky Harbor Airport workers sweat it out

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PHOENIX -

The crews who work at Sky Harbor Airport loading and unloading luggage and refueling planes have no choice but to spend their days outside in this heat.

And it's even hotter on the ground because of jet engine exhaust.

On Friday, there was no escaping the heat for the ramp agents loading and unloading baggage from the planes, which kept coming and going virtually non-stop.

"Oh, it's going to be a long day, long day. But hey, you gotta do what you gotta do," said Southwest Airlines ramp agent Roger Benton.
 
Airline crews working in temperatures hovering around 120 degrees -- when you factor in the heat from the jet engines and radiating off the acres of concrete.

"Keep drinking the water, even force yourself -- I mean it's all we really can do," said Southwest Airlines ramp agent Joe Garner.

The airline provided unlimited bottled water and plenty of watermelon to help prevent anyone out there from getting heat exhaustion.

"You gotta know the symptoms I guess when you're starting to get dehydrated, you gotta walk away, get in the shade, drink some water, do whatever you gotta do," said Southwest Airlines ramp agent Jose Gonzales.

And it's not just the air temperature that these ramp agents are dealing with.  Their equipment is getting blazing hot in this sun -- in fact I used an infrared to take a reading off a conveyer belt to see just what they're dealing with -- and it was 154 degrees.

Veteran employee Garner was working back in June of 1990 when the high hit 122 and planes were grounded.

"From what I remember back then -- when you walked out, it was like you were walking into a furnace. And it's kind of where we're at right now. We're walking into that," he said.

I saw a couple of people out on the airport tarmac who were using portable misters to keep cool -- I got one a few years ago and it really helps cool the air around you for a least a little relief.

We were only out there for a few hours and I can tell you first hand -- it's not an easy place to be when it's this hot.

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