Medical crews on hand to help in Gettysburg

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As temperatures hover around 90 degrees this weekend in Gettysburg, many medical crews are on hand, including a new addition from Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

The hospital sent its 53-foot, air-conditioned LionReach trailer to the reenactment site just north of Gettysburg Tuesday to help cool people off and treat people dealing with heat-related issues.

The trailer is being staffed 24 hours a day through the weekend.

Michael Kurtz, an assistant transport supervisor for the medical center, said the trailer helps to intervene before patients become so ill they need to go to the hospital.

“So, it’s really saving the system. Not taxing the paramedics and EMS providers out in the field, taking care of the reenactors and also the civilians,” said Kurtz.

Kurtz said on Thursday, medical staff had treated fewer than 10 people for heat-related issues.

The modern-day amenities provided a contrast to the story of the day, as reenactors looked back on the fallout of the Battle of Gettysburg.

At the Spangler Farm, about 1,700 soldiers were being treated for various injuries on July 4, 1863.

“For every soldier killed on the battlefield, two died in the hospital of a disease or illness,”  said Doug Gill, a reenactor from Newark, Ohio.

Gill educated tourists about various medical practices at the time.

“There were only 300 surgeons qualified in the United States when the war started, and that was for both sides,” said Gill. “You had ether and chloroform to put out the patients. Ether was 1842. Chloroform was 1847.”

Gill said soldiers stayed at the farm for about month.

Barbara Shults, a reenactor from Columbus, Ohio, said the weather the day after the Battle of Gettysburg proved especially challenging.

“93 (degrees), 95 (degrees) and rain, especially on July the 4th,” she explained. “They had to deal with horrendous weather conditions.” :