Medical team helps athletes beat the heat at 2019 Ironman

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Sunday, September 29, 2019
News 12 at 11 o'clock

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- It was all hands on deck for the medical team at Augusta's 11th Ironman as the competitors faced a record-breaking 97 degree heat.

"The heat is oppressive," said Beau Gedrick, Medical Director of the race. "We can't get out of it."

Gedrick said the medical team is on high alert after the hot stretch Augusta has had this week.

"It definitely affects the athletes," he said. "So then on our end, we are planning for a much busier day when we have this kind of heat."

While the hot temperatures are certainly uncomfortable for onlookers, they're dangerous for athletes. Swimming, biking and running more than 70 miles in this weather could raise serious problems.

"You start getting heat cramps and those sorts of things and so getting that hydration to them and keeping them hydrated is key," said Gedrick.

Medical teams were staffed throughout the course, ready for any injury or setback an athlete may have.

"We have extra cooling stations around to get fluids in," Gedrick said. "We have two dunk tanks back here on the medical side so that we can cool people down."

Safety is also the main priority in the water. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Staff Officer Jim McMenamin was one of the many boats in the river looking out for swimmers.

"The primary rescue people are going to be the paddle boarders and the kayakers," he said. "They're going to be right up next to the swimmers. A swimmer can come over and grab a hold of a kayak or a paddle board to rest."

In the end, the heat couldn't stop the more than 3,000 athletes from finishing the race. Next year, everyone involved is hoping for cooler temperatures.

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