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Air show finale draws thousands; 125 treated for the heat

STEWART AIRPORT – There’s limited shade on an airstrip, except under the wings of a massive C-130 Hercules.

That’s where some attendees at the New York Air Show on Sunday spent their day, finding solace from the sun wherever it could be found.

Sunday’s skies were clear and sunny: perfect for flying but not so great for the tens of thousands of spectators at Stewart International Airport.

The high was 87 degrees, according to AccuWeather.

Wendy Holmes of Pine Bush watched the U.S. Navy Blue Angels performance from the shade, saying she wished the air show had more ways to beat the heat.

The show needed more cooling stations and water stations, she said.

Chris Dorato, spokesman for the Air Show and host B. Lilley Productions, said the air show had first-aid and cooling stations throughout the site, specifically because this year’s show was held in July.

The past two shows took place in September.

Dorato said the event received no complaints about not preparing for the heat.

Kris Waite of Newburgh had no trouble with the temperatures, but blond-haired, blue-eyed son, Ryder, 3, wasn’t pleased.

“The sun affects him big time,” Waite said.

That’s why Waite said the family brought as much water as allowed.

Coolers were not permitted at the air show, and attendees could only bring in a sealed one-liter bottle of water per person.

Matthew Fredrick from New City spent his day at the air show in front of a cooling station.

“This is my favorite place, for obvious reasons,” he said.

The show needs to provide water stations and more places for shade, he said.

There was free water offered at the two “field hospitals” at the show on Sunday, run by the New Windsor Volunteer Ambulance Corps and volunteers with the the Orange County Medical Reserve Corps.

Michael Bigg, chief paramedic for the New Windsor Volunteer Ambulance Corps, said the field hospitals addressed heat-related or dehydration issues before they became serious.

On Saturday, volunteers treated 45 patients, with five taken to a hospital. And on Sunday, 125 patients were treated, and eight were taken to a hospital, Bigg said.

Steve Neuhaus, Orange County executive, said the field hospitals were new additions to this year’s show.

The organizers wanted to be prepared for the July heat, since September is often cooler.

The only problems that happened on Sunday were heat-related issues, primarily with the elderly, Neuhaus said.

He said it was primarily dehydration, and nothing too serious.

Dorato declined to give final attendance numbers but did say the event drew tens of thousands of people.

Neuhaus said he received attendance estimates of around 30,000 for Sunday – higher than the expected 20,000, and 15,000 for Saturday.

Larger crowds also increase the need for more extensive emergency and security plans, Neuhaus said.

While this year’s show moved to July to fit the Blue Angels’ schedule, the next air show has already been announced for September 2018.

The event will return to Stewart International Airport for its fourth annual show. The Air Force’s Thunderbirds headline again, having appeared at the 2016 air show.

The show is scheduled for Sept. 15 and 16, 2018.

 

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