IMS medial staff prepares for record heat

Infield medical center will be the busiest emergency room in the state Sunday, seeing more than 200 patients

Speedway, Ind.

The medical staff at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is making preparations for record temperatures expected at the Indianapolis 500 this weekend.

The temperature is expected to surpass the previous race day record set in 1937, and that could mean a record number of patients suffering from heat related illnesses.

"We'll probably go through 100-120 liters of saline on race day," said Dr. Geoffrey Billows, medical director at the Speedway.

From extra cooling fans, to walk through misting station, the Speedway is doing everything it can to keep race fans cool around the track, but the speedway medical center will still be the busiest emergency room in the state this weekend due to the high heat and humidity.

"On carb day and race day these (hospital beds) will be full and overflowing," Dr. Billows said.

The medical staff will also use an overflow tent, which will likely fill up quickly like it did during intense heat two years ago. With temperatures expected to climb even higher this year, other areas of the hospital are equipped to handle more serious cases of heat stroke.

Dr. Billows says everything from minor to serious heat illness will make for a busy day at the medical center.

"Somewhere around 200-220 patients," Dr. Billows said.

The Speedway also added to its number of First Aid stations this year. There will be 16 stations located throughout the track, which expect to treat another 1,000 race fans for minor heat-related symptoms. 

"We're putting up an additional first aid station out by the Snake Pit this year," Dr. Billows said.

The action plan is similar to Brickyard weekend, where 90 degree temperatures are common. However, the crowd for the Indianapolis 500 is much larger and 90 degree temperatures are unseasonable in May.

"People may feel it more just because they're not used to it yet," Dr. Billows said.

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