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Staying safe at Hodag Country FestSubmitted: 07/12/2013
Story By Lauren Stephenson


RHINELANDER - Hodag Country Fest may be one big party.

But if you're not careful, you can become one of the many people that need medical attention from a little too much partying.

"Since we started on Wednesday morning we've had less than 10 people that we've had to treat in some way," says Cathy Stange, Hodag Country Fest's EMS Coordinator.

She knows that number will rise. She's been Hodag Country Fest's EMS coordinator for a decade.

The 4-day music festival is a playground to country music fans.

But sometimes the fun can go a little too far.

"We see even a greater increase in the patient population that comes in," says Chris Krebs, Director of St. Mary's Patient Care Services.

June and July are the busiest months for Saint Mary's Hospital in Rhinelander.

Hodag Country Fest adds to the 10 to 15 percent increase in traffic for the hospital.

"It's weather dependent. The hotter it is, the more dehydration we see. The more sunburns. If it's a wetter year, we see less of that," adds Krebs.

Medical professionals at both Country Fest and St. Mary's say the most popular medical issues they treat are dehydration, small cuts, and sprains.

But one issue may be surprising: carbon monoxide poisoning.

"We need to have people be careful with their generators and with running vehicles next to a tent or a camper because those fumes can go into the camper and cause carbon monoxide poisoning," Stange says.

To be sure they're helping everyone who may need them, there are at least six to ten medical professionals on-site at all times.

"We have carts that go out throughout the campgrounds including the overflow campgrounds. And we also have walking crews that go out into the show area," Stange adds.

So how can you avoid getting sick or injured at Hodag Fest?

"Be careful. Be aware of your surroundings. Drink plenty of fluids. Keep in mind that alcohol and caffeine dehydrate," urges Stange.

But do enjoy the festival.

"Hodag is meant to be fun. It's meant to be relaxing. We want the attendees to have a great time. Be safe. But if you do have something come up, we're here for you," says Krebs.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

WAUSAU - During a national push to prescribe fewer painkillers, a new Wisconsin proposal appeared that it would let chiropractors prescribe prescription drugsâ€"including painkillers.

After speaking with one of the bill's authors, that notion is not at all true. 

John Murray, the executive director of the Wisconsin Chiropractic Association, which supports the bill, said it was never the bill's intention to include narcotics, or any drugs not related to neuro-muscular skeletal healing. The bill is in its early stages, having had a co-sponsor hearing on Tuesday, and future drafts of the bill will not have that broad language. 

"It is the position of the WCA that going forward that was never the intention and that's not the intention going forward to have opioids and highly addictive schedules to be part of this," Murray said. 

What the bill is meant for, he said, is to allow chiropractorsâ€"with 60 credit hours of additional education and hours of clinical trainingâ€"to be able to prescribe non-narcotic pain medication, such as muscle relaxants or steroids. This they could do instead of referring their patients out to a medical doctor for such prescriptions, as all chiropractors do now. He said this would make it more convenient for the patient and better that they see the same doctor for a medication instead of two. 

"It's not that we think referring out to other providers is a bad thing," Murray said. "But there are situations in which a patient comes in and has something that a chiropractor with proper training could treat in the short term with some pharmaceutical intervention."

Not all chiropractors agree with this bill despite its clarifications. 

Dr. Scott Bautch, D.C., of Bautch Chiropractic in Wausau, wants to stay true to being "the non-drug option" to health care. 

He would rather continue referring his patients out to medical doctors.  He presented on behalf of the Chiropractic Society of Wisconsin, which does not support the bill, at the bill's hearing in Madison on Tuesday. 

"I'm going to counsel people on what they eat, I'm going to counsel people on how they move, I'm going to counsel people on what they think," Bautch said. "But if we need to have help with something your body can't heal, I'll refer you out. In my 33 years plus of practice, I've not had a problem. And if I've had to send a patient out because the pain was so unretractable, it's not been a difficult situation at all. If I call them that day, I've had patients that we call, and they get them in in an hour."

Murray says it's up to each chiropractor in the state to decide how they want to practice.

"We have great respect for chiropractors who want to work that way," Murray said. "But there are chiropractors in the state who want to have those extra clinical tools and practice that way. It's about freedom of practice."

The bill still has a few legislative steps before, and if, it becomes law.


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