Marine Recruits Treated for Heat-related Sickness - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

07/28/05

Marine Recruits Treated for Heat-related Sickness

Uncomfortable heat is one thing, but now it's downright dangerous, and possibly deadly. US Marines may be some of the toughest in the world, but even they are feeling the heat. More than two dozen recruits at Parris Island had to be treated for heat-related incidents yesterday.

Almost all nonessential training that takes place outdoors was cancelled for the day, but recruits only have a couple weeks to get through their training, no matter what the weather's like.

"It was actually hotter here than it was in Baghdad yesterday," said 2nd Lt. Scott Miller.

With the heat index, it felt like 115 in Beaufort County, but more like a balmy 100 in Iraq.

"Our primary mission is to make Marines, and we're going to continue the mission," said Miller. "We're just going to have to adjust fire a little bit."

Unfortunately, achieving that mission put a lot of recruits out in the stifling heat Wednesday. "They were out in the Crucible or out on the rifle ranges and it's warm, the heat just starts to take a toll on you," said Miller.

All the recruits are okay now, but ten had to go to the medical clinic at the depot, nine went to the Beaufort Naval Hospital and another half dozen were taken to Beaufort Memorial Hospital.

"We cover their bodies with a sheet and soak them with water and use fans, and that's the fastest way of lowering their temperature without causing shivering and whatnot," said Dr. Saeed Rehman of Beaufort Memorial.

Parris Island officials say they do their best to protect recruits. As the temperatures have risen, so have the black flags that dot the island. They're part of a color-coordinated system that tell drill instructors exactly how to schedule their day.

That means changing things like forced marches to bus rides and rescheduling PT exercises for before the sun gets too high.

The flag system is very specific. It starts at green, at 75 degrees, and when the temperature gets to 85, it changes to yellow. At that point, they move some outdoor activities into the shade. At 88 degrees, they raise the red flag, which tells DIs to keep all unacclimated recruits away from physical training. Then the black flag goes into effect at 90 degrees, which is what they dealt with yesterday.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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