The heat overwhelmed 12 people at this weekend's Foothills Festival in spite of precautions taken by event organizers.Jasper Fire Chief David Clark confirmed Monday that his department responded to …
The heat overwhelmed 12 people at this weekend's Foothills Festival in spite of precautions taken by event organizers.
Jasper Fire Chief David Clark confirmed Monday that his department responded to 12 heat-related incidents during the two-day festival. Four individuals were transported to Walker Baptist Medical Center for treatment.
Clark said all of the individuals were suffering from dehydration or possibly heat exhaustion, but none showed signs of the more serious heatstroke.
The fire department also responded to at least five incidents involving minor injuries unrelated to the heat.
This year's total number of heat-related incidents is more than the seven calls of all types covered by first responders at last year's festival.
"But we also had a lot more people this year," Clark said.
Though the crowds were welcome, the 90-degree temperatures were not.
"On Saturday, there was a difference just in the air. It was like you were breathing out of an oven," Jasper events coordinator Lisa Myers said.
There were four cooling stations for the public and one for city personnel at the festival, according to Myers. An additional cooling station was added to the children's area on Saturday.
Each station, distributed approximately a block apart, had misting fans and coolers full of water as well as tables and chairs to accomodate up to six people.
Several vendors set up their tents to shield the maximum amount of customers from the unrelenting sun, according to Myers.
Free hand fans were distributed at information booths, and some volunteers walked around giving them out to the crowd.
City personnel were instructed to take breaks, remain hydrated and keep a check on one another throughout the weekend, Myers said.
Jasper Fire and Rescue had seven people working in addition to a medic provided by Regional Paramedical Services. The fire department was allowed to use the Warehouse 319 Annex on Second Avenue to provide privacy for patients as they were being treated.
Next year, Myers suggested that there may be additional cooling stations and more trolleys to transport people since most have to park far from the heart of downtown.
Some fans of the festival have expressed an interest in seeing the date moved to later in the year in the hopes of better weather.
"My family has never missed a foothills festival but with that being said I am saddened to say unless it's moved to a later date when temps are a little lower we won't be going. The first yrs the temps in Sept were cool enough for light jackets. We saw many of the older generation who had left or were leaving because of the heat, and those with breathing problems can't even think of coming," one Facebook user commented on Sunday's festival wrap-up article on the Daily Mountain Eagle's website.
A change of date has been considered but could not be done without conflicting with small town fall festivals in the area.
"I'm not saying that it will never be moved back. That's something that has been on our mind, but we don't want to intrude on another city in the county. We want to respect them," Myers said.