The young man approached the American Red Cross volunteer at a first-aid station at Ohio Stadium. "I'm not feeling well," he told volunteer Greg First. Within minutes, First had called on Columbus medics, and the man was on his way to the hospital with heart-related problems. Then an onslaught of overheated fans arrived at the first-aid door. And the Ohio State football game against Buffalo had yet to begin.
The young man approached the American Red Cross volunteer at a first-aid station at Ohio Stadium.
“I’m not feeling well,” he told volunteer Greg First.
Within minutes, First had called on Columbus medics, and the man was on his way to the hospital with heart-related problems.
Then an onslaught of overheated fans arrived at the first-aid door.
And the Ohio State football game against Buffalo had yet to begin.
With high humidity, a blazing sun and a temperature that peaked at 87 degrees at 2 p.m., those who care for the sick and injured at Ohio Stadium knew yesterday was going to be busy. And it was. They treated about 160 people, most for heat-related issues.
The American Red Cross has provided first aid during Ohio State football games for decades. Yesterday, 50 volunteers were dispatched across the six first-aid rooms inside the stadium. They arrived at 7:15 a.m. to set up and prepare for what they correctly predicted would be a crush of heat-related health issues.
“It might be 85 degrees outside, but with 100,000 people sitting next to you, it’s much hotter,” said Evan Derr, the Red Cross’ director of the stadium operation.
The volunteers are there to assist however they can.
Volunteer Faye Thompson said that over the years, she has repaired broken flip-flops and glasses, treated a jellyfish sting that obviously happened elsewhere and patched up thousands of blisters from wearing new shoes on game day.
“We’re very, very prepared,” said Thompson, who has volunteered with the Red Cross since 1996.
While yesterday was busy, it was much tamer than a game two years ago against the University of Akron when more than 300 people were treated for heat exhaustion.
“That day, the stadium ran out of water,” she said.
Water flowed freely yesterday. Ushers Judith Helsel and Ann Spring ran one of the monster water stations where grateful, sweaty fans accepted a free drink.
A handful of Ohio State marching band members found relief underneath the south stands, where they sat with ice bags on their heads. During his half-time break, Brutus Buckeye traded his mascot head for a 7-pound bag of ice across his shoulders.
Greg First said it was a typical opening-game day. He’s been volunteering at the stadium for six years, and until his recent move to Columbus, he commuted from northeastern Ohio’s Wayne County to report for duty.
“The heat-related games are not my most favorite games. It’s a lose-lose,” said First, who is a safety director for a construction company.
Volunteer Tom McClanahan also is a medic with the Minerva Park Fire Department. He’s been treating fans at Ohio Stadium since 1976. In all that time, his favorite encounter with a “patient” was just last year.
“She came in and started dancing around the room,” he said. “She said, “Do you mind if I dance?’ She had to relieve her stress.”
Yesterday, though, was all about beating the heat.