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Runners suffer heat exhaustion, injuries during a hot Ottawa Race Weekend

The intense summer-like heat during the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend caused many runners to experience heat exhaustion, heat stroke, falls and other serious injuries.

There was an entire operation set up by the Ottawa Hospital only steps from the finish line, with more than 100 health professionals ready for anything that could go wrong this weekend.

CTV News Ottawa looked behind-the-scenes at the work of the satellite facility to be ready for the 27,500 runners who participated on Saturday and Sunday. 

The facility was up and running by 6:30 a.m. Sunday, staffed by doctors, nurses, support staff, paramedics, and volunteers. 

Staff treated more than 90 patients throughout the race weekend.

"We are seeing a lot of heat exhaustion and some patients are coming in with some falls, some blisters, and some participants are also unfortunately having some heat stroke as well,” said Dr. Rajan Walia, a resident doctor at the Ottawa Hospital. 

Heat stroke and heat exhaustion were real risks for runners, as the temperature in the national capital reached 30 C on Sunday.

"One of the most common symptoms is a lot of nausea and some patients do have vomiting," Dr. Walia said. "In the heat it’s hard to keep up with your electrolytes and fluids."

The satellite hospital was stocked with medical supplies, patient beds, and first aid materials.

"Once they are in the building, we have buckets of ice water and water spray bottles that we use to bring their temperature down," said Michael Dans, a registered nurse working at the facility. 

Staff are also equipped for acute care and more serious injuries.

"For patients who require more invasive interventions, we have a good link with the Ottawa Hospital, so patients that are a bit sicker that need the help, they are able to be transferred appropriately," Dr. Walia said on Sunday.

Depending on the severity of the medical issue, not all runners can make it to the site on their own two feet. There are ambulances, medical golf carts and other emergency vehicles set up along the race route. 

Every possible scenario is thought of and planned for ahead of the race weekend. 

"At the end of the race, we have what we call huggers," Dans said. "Those are people watching you cross the finish line and sometimes we see people collapse right there, so we will get the blankets on them and get them in a wheelchair and they will wheel them over to the medical building."

Officials say to prevent getting sick on the course, stay hydrated before and after the race, take your time, and dress properly for the weather. Top Stories

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