Balloon Fiesta Keeps Lovelace ER Staff Busy

The Lovelace emergency room medical staff at Balloon Fiesta Park is always on their toes and it's not just balloon crashes, like the rough landing last month that keeps them busy.

You might be surprised at some of the reasons most patients pay them a visit.

People come bundled up from head to toe, wearing sweaters, some even wrapped in blankets, prepared for anything at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.

Doctors say some visitors in this crowd may not be ready for what Albuquerque has to offer and they do not know it until they forced to come into the ER.

“Sometimes people are like, I’m feeling dizzy, I’m feeling weak and they're asking for an explanation,” Doctor Lance Wilson said.

ER Doctor Lance Wilson says dozens of people fill these beds any given day of Balloon Fiesta.

Some come in with minor scrapes, bumps and bruises but what the volunteer ER staff has gotten used to treating is altitude sickness.
“We have a lot of elderly that have altitude illness, they come from sea level,” ER Registered Nurse Cathy Fitzgerald said. “People who come from other places are not ready to be at 5,000 feet.”

It may not seem like much and the ER staff says the symptoms are typically very minor. However for years each day the balloons launch or glow at night Albuquerque visitors will make their way to the ER clinic behind vendor row thinking they're shortness of breath is something more serious.

They're checked out, given oxygen and an explanation.

“A lot of times, they kind of look and say -- oh okay that makes sense, they don't always think about it,” Dr. Wilson said.

Doctor Wilson says high altitude is not the only culprit in New Mexico.
“They don’t always think about but the climate is so dry that a lot of people will get dehydrated,” Dr. Wilson said.

They saw that the first morning of Balloon Fiesta when one woman was rushed in.
“One lady was so dehydrated that we put an IV in her and gave her some fluids,” Dr. Wilson said.
The Balloon Fiesta ER staff says one difference between fiesta's ER and an actual ER is how friendly fiesta visitors can be.

One ER nurse says a 70-year-old man fell and dislocated his arm, which had to be popped back into place. When it was done he smiled and asked to go back onto the field.


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