PULASKI — More than 20 middle school children were treated for heat-related issues while on a field trip to a Pulaski County park Tuesday afternoon.
As the Pulaski Yankees battled the Johnson City Cardinals at Motor Mile Field, about 1,800 sixth- and seventh-graders from Radford and the counties of Pulaski, Giles and Montgomery were there to cheer on the Yankees in a 4-3 loss. The Yankees have already clinched an Appalachian League playoff spot.
“The park opened up the facility for the kids to come enjoy the game,” Pulaski County Administrator Jonathan Sweet said.
The Pulaski Yankees are in first place in their division right now. Tuesday was the only opportunity some of the kids would have to watch them play, Sweet said.
But as the heat index climbed to 93 degrees, some of the children showed signs of distress.
In all, 23 children were taken to LewisGale Hospital Pulaski for heat exposure, hospital spokeswoman Linda Scarborough said.
“They arrived via ambulance and are being evaluated and treated as needed,” Scarborough wrote in an email Tuesday afternoon. “Ten have already been discharged. No admissions and no transfers have taken place.”
Pulaski County Schools Superintendent Kevin Siers wrote in an email that 16 of the students were from that district.
Sweet, dressed in a Yankee jersey, had thrown out the first pitch Tuesday. He also helped load children into ambulances for treatment.
Police officers and rescue squad members walked children to shady areas while holding ice packs on their necks.
Chaperones herded other students to shady areas of the park.
“Local emergency management organizations did a great job of treating students on-site through cool-down stations and most were released after a short period of time to return with their schools,” Siers wrote. “The Yankees staff also ... were incredibly responsive to the needs and requests of each school.”
This was the first such multi-jurisdictional school field trip Calfee Park has hosted, General Manager Betsy Haugh said. Such events are common in minor league baseball.
The park provided free water and ice to help the kids cope with the heat, Haugh said.
Summer temperatures in Virginia often reach the 90s and heat-related illnesses can quickly turn serious, according to the state health department.
Symptoms of heat illness include dehydration, muscle or stomach cramps, confusion, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, headache, nausea or vomiting, according to the health department website.
To prevent heat illness, drink water even if you don’t feel thirsty; wear lightweight, light-colored clothing; limit physical activity; and seek shade or take shelter in an air-conditioned place.