Complaints of heat exhaustion as thousands attend Barbacoa & Big Red Festival

SAN ANTONIO – Several San Antonio Fire Department units were dispatched to the Barbacoa & Big Red Festival on Sunday after people called 911 directly to report heat exhaustion instead of going to first aid tents at the festival, fire officials said.

At least two dozen fire units were called to the festival, which drew thousands of attendees, and when firefighters arrived, they said the issue wasn't as critical as first thought.

"People with cellphones and stuff, things sound bigger than they actually are," said San Antonio Fire Department Battalion Chief Connie Hall. "And so, fortunately, that's what we found. When we got here, (festival organizers) did have (medical services) coordinated. They were able to take care of it."

Hall said festival organizers also called in private ambulances for backup.

Hall said when they arrived, the line of people complaining of heat exhaustion grew.

"Other people came in and said, 'Me too, me too,' and so it created a larger response when, in fact, it wasn't needed," Hall said.

According to Hall, one person needed to be taken to a hospital after suffering a seizure. It's unclear if the seizure was heat-related.

The Fire Department left its rehab bus for the medical staff at the festival, Hall said.

This year's event was held at a bigger venue bigger than last year at the Greenline inside Brooks. The previous venue was 5 acres and located outside the city. This year's venue was on 45 acres of land.

The festival also doubled its vendors to more than 200 and reduced the cost to enter the festival to $5 a person.