When a Heat Related Illness Sent a St. Bernard’s Cheerleader to the Hospital, Family Asks Could Anything Have Been Done to Prevent This?
“We were coaching the kids to hydrate as much as possible beforehand,” he said. “We rented an industrial fan and set up a misting station.” The school also set up a tent to create a cool space, he said.
But, Adrianna Franceschi, a cheerleader for the team had to be taken to the hospital with heat stroke, said her family. Another cheerleader “got hot and was able to recover by resting,” according to Shanahan.
Franceschi’s family believe the school should have protected her and the other athletes more. “There should have been have been someone watching these kids and making sure they were taking breaks,” said David Franceschi, Adrianna’s father.
He and his father, also named David Franceschi, charge that the cheerleaders didn’t receive adequate oversight. Adrianna’s grandfather stated, “Fact of the matter is a senior cheerleader was in charge, while the cheer (adult) coach sat in the stands.” [Edit: Shanahan states that “the cheerleading coach is right in front of the girls in the stands by design and coaches/directs from that location.”]
He added that the “senior cheerleader would not let the girls break formation while the game was in play to seek shade or hydration…[T]emperatures exceeded 90 degrees coupled with high humidity and unhealthy air quality.”
When the Franceschi’s arrived at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka, Adrianna’s grandfather said they were told she was the third student victim of heat stroke seen that day.
Shanahan denies that the cheerleaders were kept from breaks. He said, “It was on a break that [Adrianna] said she wasn’t feeling well….The coach and captain were very clear that hydration was a key part,” he said adding that he spoke with several cheerleaders who said they had breaks and liquid available.
“Every time our kids compete there is an element of risk,” Shanahan said. He added that the school has plans to improve their response. “Safety can always get better,” he explained. “There is the ability to increase the amount of comfort for our athletes….Instead of one misting station, we will do two.” He said that efforts will be made to further make sure that students grasp the importance of hydration.
Adrianna’s grandfather said he hopes that telling this story will bring “awareness to the severity of situations like what occurred [so that this] does not happen again. This could have easily turned deadly.”
Below are some tips from the Center for Disease Control on what to look for when exercising in the heat and what to do if you or someone you care about may be suffering: