About two-dozen Catholic school students from across Springfield fell ill at an outdoor Mass at Sacred-Heart Griffin High School’s west campus Monday morning.
Of those, 16 are being treated at area hospitals for symptoms brought on by heat-related illnesses.
“Due to the temperature, a lot of the kids started passing out from the heat,” says Springfield Fire Chief Ken Fustin. “I think what happened after the first couple passed out was, you know, some kids got emotional after seeing some of their friends passed out and they, as well, passed out.”
Fustin says the students were moved inside. Sacred Heart Griffin has air conditioning. Those experiencing heat exposure who weren’t taken to area hospitals were sent home with their parents. The number of students doing that wasn’t immediately available.
Sacred Heart Griffin student Stacey, who attended the mass, told WTAX’s Ray Lytle show what she saw.
“There were a lot of kids in stretchers and going into ambulances,” she said. From what she could see, Stacey said mainly younger kids were affected.
“Before everyone started getting communion, most of the high school kids got up and started helping everyone,” she said.
The official Springfield temperature at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport was 84 degrees with 67 percent humidity.
The gathering included students in grades 3 through 8 from the city’s catholic schools, plus all faculty, staff and students from SHG. Fustin estimates about 2,000 students took part in the prayer service, which was convened to pray for a successful school year.