Heat issues sent more than 200 for treatment at Indy 500

Beating the heat at the track
The struggle to stay cool
Struggle to stay cool at IMS

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - More than 200 people were treated for heat-related issues Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The patients were treated at the IU Health infield medical center at the track.

“Most of those patients were treated for heat exhaustion and dehydration,” said Dr. Geoffrey Billows in a statement. “IU Health track medical center staff saw cases as severe as chest pain, respiratory failure and heart failure.”

Billows also said typically, 25 to 30 people end up being transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital for further care. He didn’t have numbers for this year but said “it felt like more.”

As in years past, fans spent hours at IMS, showing up early, in some cases before 7:00 a.m. However, this year, race day came with temperatures that hovered in the 90s.

“It was way hotter than it has been in the past,” said Carly McKean who attended the race.

Susie Pietrzak came to watch the race, but is a lifeguard and says she ended up helping a person struggling in the heat.

“I ran up and this man was very pale so I checked his heart rate and checked him for stroke. He was very hot and dehydrated so we put a lot of ice packs on him just waited and hung out with him until EMS arrived,” said Pietrzak.

Many fans brought coolers full of water, umbrellas, misting fans and anything they could think of to help stay cool. IMS also tried to help fans cool off, with five cooling buses and more than 75 misting stations.

“I think it was worth it for the most part, you had to drink a lot of water, but definitely worthwhile,” said Harrison Dale.

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