"We saw 86 calls for service," Tampa Fire-Rescue’s Capt. Ryan Bradford said. "Of those, we transported 14 to area hospitals, and about 50% of those were heat-related or what we would expect are heat-related."
Bradford is in charge of dispatching medical units to calls for help at Raymond James Stadium.
FOX 13 Chief Meteorologist Paul Dellegatto reported the heat index at the stadium was 103 degrees just before 3 p.m. on Sunday.
"It's not unusual to have a game or two early in the season that we get like that," Bradford said. "This one was pretty, pretty high on the demand list for our staff as far as challenge. And I believe a lot of that has to do with timing, and the fact that we do seem to be a little warmer this year at this point than we have been in years past."
This season marks the first of the post-Tom Brady era for the Bucs. The 2023 regular season schedule shows the team will play in fewer primetime games.
While the weather does get cooler as the year winds down, the Bucs had just two home games with 1 p.m. kickoffs last season. This year, there are six.
"We practice in this every day. We went through camp in this heat, so I think it’s going to be huge, especially with a lot these 1 o’clock games we have, using that to our advantage," Bucs’ OL Tristan Wirfs said after Sunday’s game.
Tampa Fire Rescue has a game plan, too. Crews know exactly what to look for in fans.
Symptoms of dehydration and heat exhaustion include headache, fatigue, and dizziness, according to Bradford.
"As we progress on more into the heat stroke or the more advanced heat exhaustion, dehydration, you're going to start seeing loss of consciousness, fainting," Bradford said. "You'll start seeing people’s skin become dry. Where we would expect to see people sweating, they no longer can sweat to regulate their temperature. And that's when it becomes a truly critical medical condition."
TFR has five first aid rooms and four smaller medical rooms at Raymond James Stadium, plus a field-type hospital room that can hold six to eight patients.
But a win in Tampa Fire-Rescue’s book is when Bucs’ fans don’t end up in any of their treatment areas.
"Hydrate early. Start increasing your fluid intake," Bradford said. "We know that people want to indulge on those days, and that's perfectly fine. And it feels like you're being hydrated. But alcohol, caffeine, they actually do just the opposite of that."