Riley County EMS Director Larry Couchman reported Monday that the number of medical-related incidents at this weekend’s Country Stampede was low considering the magnitude of the event and its attendance, which he said could number anywhere from 40,000 to 60,000 per day.
“I said last week that depending on how I look today, that would be a reflection of how Stampede went,” Couchman told Riley County commissioners. “And yes, I’m tired, but overall, I’m smiling. It was a great Stampede.”
Couchman said 471 people were treated in some way during the festival, up 23 percent from last year, but still lower than 2012’s total of 516.
There were 23 medical emergencies in which alcohol was the primary problem — two more than last year, but shy of 2012’s tally of 31.
Twelve orthopedic injuries were reported, and 16 injuries were related to heat and/or sunburns. Half of those heat/sunburn incidents happened on Sunday, when it was sunny and humid the entire day. In 2012, there were 42 of those emergencies.
Overall, 13 people were transported by ambulance, and 330 people received first-aid treatment.
Considering this year’s festival looked to be one of the biggest ever — Couchman said he didn’t have final attendance numbers but he said crowds were bigger than he’s recalled before — the number of medical emergencies was lower than it could have been.
Chairman Bob Boyd asked Couchman about the condition of the four festival-goers who suffered carbon monoxide poisoning early Thursday morning because of poor placement of two gas generators near their camper.
Couchman said two of the four were back at Stampede during the weekend and that the incident could have been much worse. The other two also were released from the hospital.
“There was no wind, it was cool and there was high humidity, so a lot of factors came together that didn’t move that exhaust out,” Couchman said.
“But probably the significant factor was that (one of) the generators wasn’t positioned properly,” therefore blowing exhaust under their camper.
Couchman said one of the campers felt ill early Thursday morning and the others knew something was wrong. If that camper hadn’t displayed those symptoms, the incident could have been much more tragic.
“Circumstances were so that it was caught early enough that the levels obviously needed treatment, but I don’t think there is going to be any significant long-term effect (for the victims),” he said. “It had the potential though.
“(Carbon monoxide) is a silent killer. You will go to sleep and you will not wake up. Fortunately there was an illness issue — I don’t want to get into great details — but (this person) kept fainting and falling and had difficulties with balance and that’s what woke up the rest of the family.”
Couchman said he hopes the incident raises awareness for everyone in the future — and not just Stampeders.
“It could occur on the Fourth of July weekend,” he said. “It’s not just something to do with Stampede. It’s just being out camping. Please be careful. Power goes out during a summer thunderstorm and someone kicks on their generator and decides to put it in their garage instead of outside, or next to an open window. Any of those issues can occur anytime. If you’re using something that uses combustible fuel, be careful where that is exhausting to.
“Carbon monoxide will displace your oxygen and grab ahold of your red blood cells before the oxygen will, so it’s a very subtle thing. You can’t smell it, you don’t know it.”
He said he recommends using carbon monoxide detectors year-round.Circumstances were so that it was caught early enough that the levels obviously needed treatment, but I don