Editor’s Note: This story makes mention of sexual violence.
As Bloomington prepares for the Little 500, utilities prepare to play their part in keeping the Bloomington community and IU students safe.
IU Health Bloomington Hospital is preparing for a possible increase in patient admissions around the Little 500 race weekend.
This is the first time in two years that the Little 500 race will be celebrated in person. In 2020 the event was canceled and last year it was held without fans in person.
“We’re anticipating this to be a big year, so we’ve definitely increased our staff,” said Katy Howe, director of emergency and trauma services at IU Health Bloomington.
The hospital has also increased its supply of IV fluids in anticipation, Howe said.
Last year, IU Health opened a new hospital in Bloomington on Discovery Parkway, which includes a larger emergency department.
“Historically, we’ve had to put patients all over the hall, or just anywhere we could,” Howe said, “Now we really have the space to be able to take care of what’s coming.”
Howe said the weather can have a big effect on people’s hydration and safety while running.
“Wear sunscreen, drink plenty of fluids other than alcohol, because alcohol can help dehydrate your body,” Howe said.
She said an increase in sexual assaults was also of concern over race weekend.
“Make sure you stick with friends,” Howe said. “Don’t find yourself in a position where you are alone.”
Kelly Mullis, director of IU Health South Central Region Lifeline, said Lifeline, the organization that manages medical transportation for IU Health, has been preparing for Little 500 for several weeks and has added additional ambulances for the weekend.
There are numerous health resources at Bill Armstrong Stadium, including a disaster trailer and paramedics stationed on every corner, Mullis said.
“Don’t overdo it,” Mullis said. “Be with people you trust.”
The IU Police Department is also preparing for the Little 500 weekend and the expected increase in alcohol consumption. IUPD Deputy Chief Shannon Bunger said police knew people were going to party, but hoped people would stay accountable and know the resources available to them.
“You can’t stop people from having parties,” Bunger said.
Lifeline law in Indiana allows immunity in certain alcohol-related offenses. To be protected from prosecution under the Lifeline Act, a person must seek emergency medical assistance for someone else, suffer a sex crime, or witness another crime. If one or more of these conditions apply to a person, they will not be prosecuted for the offenses of public intoxication or unlawful possession of alcohol.
“Say you call and you’re a minor, if you cooperate with the police, you won’t be cited for underage drinking,” Bunger said. “This week, for our department, if someone needs help, that person will also be protected. We are not going to quote them.