NINE MILE FALLS, Wash. - The combination of a tough contact sport and this summer heat wave has sent 10 high school wrestlers to the hospital – the majority as a precaution. But one, a 17-year-old from western Washington remains in the ICU at Holy Family Medical Center in Spokane, after becoming severely dehydrated.
They were all taking part in the weeklong Washington Intensive Wrestling Camp, held from July 8-14 at Lakeside High School in Nine Mile Falls. Washington Intensive is not affiliated with the school district; it's a highly regarded independent program in its 17th year, which focuses not only on athletics, but personal development and motivational speakers. It draws athletes, coaches and counselors from all over the western United States.
"This isn't your normal camp, it's a hard work, live-wrestling experience," said camp director and wrestling coach, Scott Jones. "Lots of wrestling, lots of conditioning, lots of training, and it's hot. So we've adjusted to try to meet the needs of the environment as well, but still, it's a sad situation."
In the heat, the fans are blowing, water bottles are constantly being filled, and a medical corner is ready. But despite those precautions, on Monday, a 17-year-old wrestler was in the middle of an indoor match, when he lost consciousness.
Jones says the wrestler felt dizzy, took a knee, went to his hip, and then rolled over on his back, passed out. Camp officials called 911 and he was rushed to the hospital, where he received a breathing tube, and his temperature was found to be 102 degrees.
"We love those kids and we attempt to treat them like they're our own kids, and we know every kid that goes down, that's some mom's little boy," Jones told KHQ.
Jones has visited the student – and his parents – every day in the hospital, and says he's improving, but it's a situation that still brings a tear to his eye.
"When he left here, he was unconscious," said Jones. "So that's really scary, and it's the first time in 17 years, of the thousands of kids we've put through the camp. That broke my heart, and surely, even still today, it's pretty emotional."
Jones says of the 10 students who were checked out at the hospital this week, only 2 were for heat-related problems. The others were as a precaution for head and contact injuries relating to wrestling, and have all been released.
"I feel sorry for the community because they see a lot of ambulances coming and going, and that must be scary, but it's precautionary, and it's the right thing to do," Jones said.
Parents and coaches we spoke with all had rave reviews of the Washington Intensive Camp, including Shelly and Travis Glidewell. Their eldest son was in the camp last year, and their second son is there right now.
"My son says, he's tired but it's worth it," Shelly Glidewell told KHQ.
Both parents defend the camp staff and coaches, and say they do wonders for the students, both physically and mentally. The fact that some fellow athletes have gone to the hospital does not worry them about their own child's safety.
"Things happen, whether it was at Washington Intensive, or whether they were at a football practice or wrestling practice, those things can happen," she added.
But Scott Jones and his team are taking every precaution to make sure it doesn't happen again. They always had EMT's in the medical corner, but after the unidentified wrestler was taken to the ICU this week, they decided to hire a full-time paramedic, and have an ambulance stationed right outside the gym.
Each student is issued a water bottle upon check-in, and water jugs are available around the clock. They also take student's temperatures and pulse rates whenever they feel dizzy or sick, and they're given cool towels, just in case.