Devastating Phoenix heat forces Red for Ed walkout to end early
PHOENIX — As thousands of people gathered at the Arizona Capitol on Thursday in an effort to raise pay for teachers, the Legislature was not the only thing they were going up against.
The heat proved to be devastating for several of the estimated 50,000 participants.
Organizers with Arizona Educators United, the group behind the #RedForEd movement, had planned on the rally lasting well into Thursday afternoon.
But the event was abruptly ended around 1:30 p.m., shortly after a woman had to be carried out by paramedics after nearly passing out in the crowd.
Marisol Garcia, one of the people with Arizona Educators United, told KTAR News 92.3 FM that the march from Chase Field to the Capitol “probably expended people” and that organizers decided against marching again on Friday.
“Even though it’s April, it’s really July today,” she said, referring to the heat.
“It takes Arizonans a while to get used to it.”
The woman was first carried to the main staging area by a man as organizers addressed the crowd.
Once first responders reached her so they could administer aid, the man who carried her to help was tasked with lifting her feet above her head, while others cut her tights off of her body with a sharp knife.
Other members in the crowd also approached the first responders with concerns: Other people were passing out and needed help.
This KTAR News 92.3 FM reporter witnessed people seeking help for at least four participants who passed out due to the heat or other factors during Thursday’s rally.
The Phoenix Fire Department said in a statement that it had been “preparing for and anticipating the influx of people” for the event and had staffed extra people in the area.
In all, about 20 people at the Capitol were treated by first responders; about five of which were heat-related, the department said.
“To that end, we have been adequately prepared for the number of medical-related incidents that have been dispatched today,” the statement read.
Garcia said participants who want to gather at the Capitol on Friday can be shuttled in from Chase Field instead.