Frigid Weather Takes Toll on Inauguration Watchers

Hundreds treated at first aid stations

WASHINGTON (AP) -- While hundreds of people who attended the inauguration on Tuesday sought medical assistance at first aid stations, local hospitals say they didn't see anything out of the ordinary for such a large crowd on a cold winter day.

There were an estimated 750 patients treated at first aid stations, and 63 were taken to local hospitals, said Gretchen Michael, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services. People around the National Mall and the inaugural parade route received care mostly for falls, dehydration, chest pains and hypothermia.

Marianne Worley, spokeswoman for Georgetown University Hospital, said about 26 people involved in the inaugural festivities had come to the hospital between midnight and 4 p.m. Tuesday for hypothermia, asthma, cuts and fainting.

"It was not out of the ordinary," Worley said.

A 68-year-old woman who fell on the tracks at a downtown subway station was treated and released.

Morning temperatures were in the low 20s and climbed to 28 degrees by the time of the inauguration ceremony.

Kendra Carter, a registered nurse with the U.S. Public Health Service, said her station between the Washington Monument and World War II Memorial saw at least 20 people with hypothermia.

Carter said some of those who had problems with the cold arrived as early as 3 a.m. and had been sitting or sleeping on the ground while waiting. She said some people were from parts of the country not accustomed to Washington winter weather and didn't dress appropriately.

"We see a lot of cold feet, cold hands, temps under 95 degrees," she said.

Many people also stopped by the tent just to get a break from the cold, wrapping themselves up in silver-colored Mylar blankets.

The frigid weather was especially hard on children, Carter said.

Mia Engel and her son Max guided a young woman and her shivering 5-month-old child to a first aid tent after the mother and daughter appeared to be in distress.

"The mother looked very cold," Engel said. "It looked like she might have been crying and I just saw a scared young woman."

The child was taken to a hospital by ambulance.

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