COLUMBIA — The Show-Me State Games organizers are no stranger to the heat.
The Olympic-style sports competition, which holds its final set of competitions Friday through Sunday, has taken place during the summer months in mid-Missouri for the past 28 years. Emily Lorenz, the event’s marketing and media coordinator, said the competition's history has prepared it for the area’s current drought-like environment.
"It's definitely something that we take very seriously," she said.
Despite the nation’s worst drought since 1956, the games did not send any participants to the hospital for heat-related illnesses last weekend, said Jay Hamner, MU Health Care's ambulance supervisor. Hamner's staff provided on-site assistance, and only had to tend to minor issues such as heat cramps and exhaustion.
MU Health Care is a sponsor of the Show-Me State Games and provides health advice to participants before competition. The games give MU Health Care a list of indoor and outdoor venues to send ambulances and personnel in an effort to protect against illness.
"We know the general signs, but for the most part we make ourselves very visible," Hamner said.
The emergency room at University Hospital has treated 15 patients for heat-related illnesses since June 25, according to a news release.
The Show-Me State Games are scheduled to avoid the heat when possible, Lorenz said. Many of the more than 40 events take place indoors. Some outdoor competitions, such as the triathlon and track and field events, take place during either the morning or the evening.
In the past, competition staff has added water breaks and shortened games, though Lorenz said they did not have to shorten any of last weekend's games.
Despite the high temperatures, participation in the Show-Me State Games is up over last year, Lorenz said.
Lorenz said she encourages competitors to read up on heat safety on the event’s website and to be hydrated before competition.
"I would just say that people can still get involved," Lorenz said. "Just be careful."