35 Jaguars fans hospitalized for heat stress

Temperatures in stands Sunday exceeded 100 degrees

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter , Francesca Amiker - Reporter , Joy Purdy - 5:30, 6:30 & 11 p.m. anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - As painful as the Jaguars' loss was to the Green Bay Packers was on Sunday, many fans found the loss even harder to deal with because of the heat.

Temperatures on the field rose as high as 113 degrees, and it wasn't much cooler in the stands. 

Ross Powers said he bought $200 tickets to watch the game, and the EverBank experience was great, except for the loss and the heat.

"It was very hot; very humid," Powers said. "I was wiping my sweat off my forehead every two minutes. I took my shirt off at one point to use as a sweat rag."

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department said it responded to 123 emergency calls during the game, and more than 80 percent of the calls were heat related. JFRD said 35 of the calls ended with people being taken to a hospital with heat stress.

"It really was no surprise," Jaguars vice-president of communications, Dan Edwards said Monday. "It's early September in Florida. You know it's going to be hot."

One fan said the concession near his seat ran out of water, and the team acknowledged there were problems restocking some concessions with ice, water and Gatorade because so many people were in the concourses to get out of the sun. 

It took a little bit longer because of the congestion, but were really planning ahead with the concession stands and making sure that all of those are fully stocked and available," Edwards said.

Edwards added that fans can get free water at guest services booths or refill bottles throughout the stadium at water fountains.

"We also have the cool zone, both in the south end zone and the north end zone cooling benches with misting fans, so there are other ways to help people deal with the heat and get out of the sun," Edwards said. "We want to try and make sure people are aware of those options, too."

JFRD spokesman Tom Francis said rescue personnel prepare for hot and humid conditions at big events like a Jaguars game, where 65,000 fans pack the stands.

"The vast majority of those individuals who needed treatment and needed the transport were from our area; they were not from (those) visiting from Wisconsin," Francis said. "We make sure we have JTA buses readily available with air conditioning, so with the temperatures being what they were going to be, we were able to respond immediately to provide a cooling environment for anyone affected."

The next home game isn't for two weeks -- Sept. 25 against the Ravens -- when it could be almost as hot.

"It will be warm again so we encourage fans to prepare, to hydrate a couple days in advance and come prepared appropriately for the weather," Edwards said.

Francis hopes fans will be smart.

"Obviously, common sense is where everything begins," Francis said. "Hydrate up; be careful of the environment you're in. If you have ailments, if you're sickly, please do not expose yourself to excessive heat that could again potentially be present. There's not really any shade in the stadium. If you can't handle the heat, sit in your air conditioning and watch it from home."

Dr. Sunil Joshi, director of the Duval County Medical Society, said that before heading into the heat, hydrate not only the day of, but also the night before. He also advised avoiding alcohol and caffeine.

Hot fans

Packers fan Debbie Karolewicz, who attended the game with her son, said she saw two people pass out.

“It is too hot,” Karolewicz said. “People are passing out and we can't sit in our seats. It's horrible. I've stayed right here the whole time.”

Several employees said at least four people fainted in the FanDuelVille zone alone, and emergency responders had to attend to others in the stands.

Fans were doing everything they could to stay cool -- whether it was drinking from the water fountain or standing in the shade.

“The fans come out here and we sit in this and we cheer,” Jaguars fan Ken Johnson said. “We do it year after year.”

Needed medical attention, but not for heat

About two hours before the game, the driver of the Green Bay Packers team bus was bitten in the groin area by a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office K-9, Halo, who was there to do a security sweep.

The driver was taken to Baptist Medical Center. The driver's son told News4Jax on Monday the man had minor injuries and is doing OK. 

The incident is under investigation by the JSO and the city's insurance adjuster's office was notified.

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