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Vanderbilt offers safety tips for CMA Music Festival

Jun. 6, 2013, 1:00 AM

Officials hope proper precautions can lower incidence of illness, injury this year

LifeFlight’s mobile emergency command and communications bus will be on the scene at the CMA Music Festival as the official communications center.

As Nashville welcomes visitors from around the world to the CMA Music Festival this week, Vanderbilt LifeFlight officials are urging fans to take necessary precautions to avoid illness and injury.

More than 1,400 patients were treated at the 2012 festival for a variety of issues including heat-related illnesses, sunburn, alcohol consumption and even blisters from improper foot care.

Heat-related illness is still the No. 1 concern of the LifeFlight Event Medicine team, which has provided the CMA Music Festival emergency medical coverage since 2009 and is the event’s official EMS and medical provider.

“Victims of heat exhaustion should know when to call it quits for the day,” said Jared McKinney, M.D., assistant professor of Emergency Medicine and medical director for the Event Medicine division of LifeFlight. “If you are feeling light-headed or dizzy, please ask for assistance to get to the first aid tent or ask for evaluation from one of our medics.”

Alcohol can intensify the consequences of exposure to the heat and worsen dehydration, which can lead to impaired judgment and lack of recognition of the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion. Further, it can interfere with the body’s ability to sweat, which is a natural cooling mechanism.

The first step toward treating heat-related illness is to cool the body and infuse appropriate fluids for re-hydration, which means alcohol should not be consumed in lieu of water or electrolyte-replacing sports drinks.

“We want fans to enjoy Nashville and have a great time, but be careful when it comes to alcohol consumption and keep it in moderation,” McKinney said.

As a preventive measure, people should drink water even if they don’t feel thirsty. By the time one feels thirsty, they are often already dehydrated.

In addition to hydration, Vanderbilt offers these additional tips to prevent heat-related illnesses:

  • Avoid intense outdoor activity from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., the hottest part of the day
  • Rest frequently in the shade when outdoors
  • Wear light-colored and lightweight clothing
  • Cover up — wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen of 30 SPF or greater.

The Event Medicine team also treats numerous patients at the festival each year for foot blisters due to improper footwear. Of additional concern is sunburn, which can not only curb short term fun but have long term ramifications, including skin aging and melanoma.

Vanderbilt LifeFlight Event Medicine at the CMA Music Festival – by the numbers:

  • The Vanderbilt LifeFlight Event Medicine team treated more than 1,400 patients at the 2012 CMA Music Festival and has been the official medical provider for this event since 2009.
  • More than 100 Vanderbilt EMTs, paramedics and registered nurses will work the four day festival, putting in an anticipated 1,700 total hours.
  • Three LifeFlight ambulances will be onsite for needed patient transports. Last year, 22 patients were transported from the festival.
  • LifeFlight’s mobile emergency command and communications bus will also be on the scene as the official communications center.
  • Rescue 1, LifeFlight’s off-road response vehicle, will also be in operation, and medics will circulate the event on Segways and bicycles.
  • First aid tents will be set up at all locations of the CMA Music Festival, with cooling stations available at select locations.

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