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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