Public Safety

18 treated, five hospitalized, as heat illnesses affect runners at College Community cross-country invitational

A Cedar Rapids police car. (Gazette file photo)
A Cedar Rapids police car. (Gazette file photo)

Multiple runners became sick and a scheduled race was canceled after the sudden emergence of the sun Saturday morning led to mass heat sickness at a College Community School District cross-country invitational.

According to a media release from the Cedar Rapids Police Department, Cedar Rapids firefighters and police officers were dispatched to Prairie High School, 401 76th Avenue SW, where a series of scheduled cross-country races involving 23 schools and roughly 3,000 athletes was being held. The call informed police that several runners exhibited signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.

Police say that at 10:15 a.m. the dense fog that had been lingering all morning pulled away at about the halfway point of the fifth scheduled race, revealing the sun and increasing the temperature. At this point several athletes became ill and required treatment.

According to the media release, firefighters, police officers and Area Ambulance Service personnel treated 18 patients with the assistance of trainers from participating schools. Five of the 18 patients affected required transport to local hospitals for further treatment, but none of the patients appeared to have life-threatening illnesses, according to the release.

There was another race scheduled for Saturday morning, but, after the incident, school officials canceled the remaining race.

According to police, the College Community School District 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. Police credit the emergency planning for helping to “mitigate more serious issues that could have developed” after several participants first started showing signs of illness.

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