Hospitals saw spike in medical needs for Rock 'n' Roll Marathon

Published: Nov. 9, 2015 at 8:38 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 9, 2015 at 8:38 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - One of the busiest weekends in Savannah has come and gone, and now race officials are reviewing and working to see what improvements they can make for next years' Rock 'n' Roll Marathon.

We reached record-high temps for the race, making it 30 degrees warmer than any of the marathons in the past. That led to some changes Saturday morning, and also to a huge spike in the need for medical help.

During the race, temperatures surpassed 80 degrees. That, coupled with the humidity, prompted race leaders and medical staff to make the decision to cut the race short, just before 10 a.m., for runners who had not yet made it halfway.

A 35-year-old man from the Atlanta area died attempting to run the marathon.

St. Joseph's Hospital was the partner hospital for the marathon. The Director of Emergency Services said they saw runners going down far earlier this year than in year's past. Many of them dealt with dehydration, hypothermia, and cramps.

Memorial University Medical Center still has some marathon runners in the hospital.

"We had some cases of some profound hyperthermia where we had to activate active cooling. We had aggressive hydration…some had renal failure," said Tucker Laffite, Emergency Room Doctor, Memorial.

Medical staff and race officials were prepared with medical tents set up all along the race route. They also had cooling buses and hydrating systems.

Saint Joseph's said they transported about 17 runners to the hospital, and that doesn't include those that showed up later by private car. The hospital says they only transported three or four runners in year's past.

"We were seeing a lot of the runners coming in with increased confusion. So, they really did not know how far they had pushed their bodies, so by the time they reached us, they were extremely dehydrated, and confused, and not aware of their surroundings. Their mindset was they were going to complete the race no matter what," said Billy Rawlings, Director of ER Services, St. Joseph's/Candler.

Organizers of the race say they went above and beyond to make sure the race was as safe as possible for those running.

"We have already met with some of our staff, and we have another meeting with our staff this afternoon. We will look at what things we could have done a little bit better because of the increase in heat," Rawlings said.

They say as they will make improvements, the loss of one of the runners will not keep the race from coming back next year.

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