“Queen Anne’s County emergency officials and those at two area hospitals say it was heat-related illness that sent 14 Kent Island High School varsity football players and three coaches to hospitals last week. They were overcome during an afternoon practice at the school and “”all were exhibiting symptoms of heat exhaustion including nausea, vomiting, and profuse perspiration,”” said a statement released by the Queen Anne’s County Department of Emergency Services. Spokespersons for both Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis and Memorial Hospital in Easton indicated there was no indication of anything else involved other than heat exhaustion.
Bryon Sofinowski, the school’s football coach says, “”maybe there’s more to it than heat exhaustion.”” He is not convinced heat was to blame. “”It has to be more than dehydration with eight players going down in less than five minutes,”” Sofinowski said. He thinks his opinion is reinforced by the fact that one of the assistants did not become ill until later. All of the high school’s fall sports teams were practicing that afternoon, but only the varsity football team was affected. Other teams were practicing on adjacent fields, and none of those players or coaches became ill.
In preparation for the upcoming season, the varsity football team has been practicing an hour in the morning, before the heat of the day, and then returning at 4 p.m., practicing into the evening. The team had been on the field less than an hour when the players fell ill. “”The kids are my first priority and in 40 minutes of practice, there had been three water breaks,”” Sofinowski said. “”I feel they were properly watered. We did our job in properly hydrating the kids.”” He also noted there was one player in street clothes who did not practice, but who also became ill. The call for help went out about 4:45 p.m. as several kids became sick on the field, said Kevin Aftung, the county’s emergency management chief. The situation quickly escalated into a working mass casualty incident as more players were affected.
The players “”all were exhibiting symptoms of heat exhaustion including nausea, vomiting, and profuse perspiration,”” said a statement released Friday afternoon by the Queen Anne’s County Department of Emergency Services. The heat index on the field at the time of the incident measured at 106 degrees, according to Aftung. Aftung said intravenous solutions were administered to several players and others received oxygen.