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Heat-related injuries prompt LAUSD probe

October 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Los Angeles Unified School District is investigating why a cross-country track meet was allowed to continue amid hot and humid conditions. A dozen people became ill, and 10 students ended up hospitalized.Many of the runners may not have been prepared because their practices had to be canceled due to the heat.

"I think our system broke down, and we just have to say that," said LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines.

Cortines said the track meet at Pierce College in Woodland Hills should have been canceled. School officials did not follow policy, he said, and lacked good judgment when continuing with the race despite the heat.

"The policy says 95. If it was 97, it should have been canceled," Cortines said.

The course was about three miles, and runners said they felt the heat early on.

"I saw a lot of people walking, and some coaches, they were like, 'Tell them to keep on running,' but they couldn't really run anymore," said runner Janet Escalero.

Dr. Stephen Jones of Northridge Hospital said the runner he treated on Thursday had clear signs of a heat-related injury.

"The runner just started acting confused and disoriented, and it was clear to the people around this individual that there was a problem," Jones said.

He said Thursday's heat alone probably wasn't to blame. This week's heat wave may have dehydrated the athletes long before the race started.

"I think you have to take a close look at not only the temperature it is that day, but how hot was it the previous three or four days, and that has to become a factor," Jones said.

Jones said it's important to drink water continuously in the days before a race or any strenuous outdoor activity in the heat.


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