AP NEWS — PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona’s health department has named a physician to address ways to lessen the effects of extreme heat in the arid Southwestern state as the first statewide heat officer in the nation.

Dr. Eugene Livar was appointed to the role under Gov. Katie Hobbs’ extreme heat preparedness plan, the Arizona Department of Health Services said Wednesday.

Livar has been with the state health department since 2012, most recently working as assistant director for public health preparedness. In that role, he contributed to the state’s heat plan.

Underscoring the dangers of increasingly hot weather, the toll of heat-associated deaths in Arizona’s most populous county has soared well over 400 after the area’s hottest summer ever recorded. Maricopa County is the hottest metropolitan area in the U.S. and home to Phoenix.

The cities of Phoenix and Miami have their own heat officers to oversee ways to protect people and the overall community from extreme heat as climate change leads to more frequent and enduring heat waves.

Phoenix, the hottest big city in the United States, also has an office of heat response and resiliency that aims to protect people and help them cope with the hot weather through programs like cooling stations and increased tree planting.