A large storm front crosses over the Sydney suburb of Wakehurst December 5, 2014.
A large storm front crosses over the Sydney suburb of Wakehurst December 5, 2014. Reuters/Rick Stevens

A wild storm passed through Melbourne on Monday causing a rare event called “thunderstorm asthma.” It brought pollen and other allergens, leading to a flood of calls for ambulance.

The storm gave reprieve from extreme heat, but it led to two deaths. Several people were hospitalised after complaining of asthma. The Guardian quotes State Emergency Service (SES) saying it received more than 350 calls for ambulance. The extreme weather hit the area around 6 pm, damaging buildings, destroying cars and ripping tiles from rooftops.

The ambulance service said that it received up to 1,900 calls from 6 to 11 pm. It was much higher than the average of previous instances. The majority of distress calls were from the West of Melbourne. The organisation had to perform a day’s work within five hours.

St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne, said that it ran out of Ventolin puffers, which are used to relax muscles in the airways during asthma attacks. It was overflowing with patients who needed urgent medical attention. The hospital had to open another emergency department.

Hundreds of patients arrived there at the same time complaining of the same problem. The hospital had to enact its Code Brown plan to accommodate those who needed emergency medical care.

Stephenson, the executive director of Victoria Ambulance Emergency Operations, confirmed that two people died. Their cause of death still remains unknown.

Australian Health Minister Jill Hennessy said that they will review the emergency. They would also evaluate how hospitals dealt with the situation.