CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – Cedar Rapids firefighters and police officers were dispatched to College Community Schools, 401 76th Avenue SW, for several student athletes that exhibited signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.
The school district was hosting a cross-country event with 23 schools participating and approximately 3,000 student athletes. At approximately 10:15 a.m. the dense fog lifted and the sun increased the temperatures during about the half-way point of the fifth race. Several athletes became ill and required medical treatment.
Firefighters, police officers, and Area Ambulance Service personnel, with the assistance of trainers from participating schools, treated 18 patients. Five of the 18 patients required transport to local hospitals. None of the patients appeared to have life-threatening illnesses.
There were six races scheduled, however school officials cancelled the remaining race.
The school had more than 50 volunteers assisting with the event and they had an ambulance on standby in the event of any emergency, along with trainers from each school.
The emergency planning conducted by College Community Schools in preparation of this event helped mitigate more serious issues that could have developed when several participants showed signs of heat-related illness.
This is also a reminder that heat illnesses are strongly related to the heat index, which is a measurement of how hot you feel when the effects of relative humidity and air temperature are combined. A relative humidity of 60% or more hampers sweat evaporation, which hinders your body's ability to cool itself.