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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Here’s how to stay safe at Hoopfest this weekend and where to go if you are injured

As thousands flood into downtown Spokane this weekend for Hoopfest, efforts are underway to keep players safe while playing 3-on-3 basketball.

Officially partnered with MultiCare, the two-day event will have three tents on site providing all kinds of medical care from sprains, fractures, dislocated shoulders, heat exhaustion and many other conditions that may happen while playing hard in the sun all day.

Here’s what you need to know about how to get medical care at Hoopfest.

Where to get care at Hoopfest

Three medical tents will be located in front of River Park Square on Main Street, at the corner of Spokane Falls Boulevard and Washington Street, and in Riverfront Park near the pavilion. A fourth, smaller tent near Center Court that will triage care and send patients to the other tents.

Care is scheduled to be available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. But the tents will remain open for as long as basketball is being played, said MultiCare Rockwood sports medicine expert and lead physician for Hoopfest Dr. Nick Strasser.

One-hundred-and-fifty medical providers will be working in the four tents including nurses, medical assistants and different types of physicians, including orthopedic surgeons.

“First thing we’ll do when a patient gets there is we just check them in so we can track any injuries and make sure they have appropriate follow-up,” Strasser said. “We’ll walk them back to an examination table where they’ll be seen by one of our support staff or nurses. And then if the injury or illness is beyond that, we’ll have physicians and other providers on site who will assess them at that time.”

The tents also have water, Gatorade and cooling dunk tanks. One has an X-ray machine to help with diagnoses.

Players and spectators are welcome to use the medical tents, and all the medical care provided on-site is free.

“If anything occurs during that weekend, we’re happy to see them at no charge. We don’t charge anyone for assessments,” Strasser said. “They don’t need insurance cards or anything like that. We’re there to serve the community.”

If emergency surgery is required, MultiCare has plans in place to transport patients to Deaconess Hospital. If treatment is not urgent but requires a follow-up visit, those appointments can be scheduled on-site as well.

“We’re going to help with a warm handoff as you travel home and make sure you have arrangements to receive care,” Strasser said. That includes those traveling from the West Side of the state for the competition.

Any care that happens off-site or after the event will be billed normally and will require health insurance.

Last year there were 1,185 people treated at the Hoopfest medical tents. Over half of those incidents were tape being placed on ankles and elsewhere, which can often be precautionary, Strasser said. Other injuries at the 2023 event included 155 sprains, 56 fractures and eight instances of heat exhaustion.

Because of a higher number of players, Strasser expects a 15%-20% increase in injuries from last year.

How to prepare for Hoopfest

Temperatures Saturday and Sunday are projected to reach a high in the low to mid 80s. While that may sound like ideal weather for a day playing basketball, you should not underestimate the risk of heat illness.

“One thing that concerns me when you have temperature in the high 70s to low 80s is that people will not take the risk seriously enough, and heat illness will sneak up on them,” Strasser said. “When it is in the 90s, everybody wears shorts, bring an ice pack, bring water. They think about it more. But with slightly cooler weather, it may not be at top of mind.”

Signs of heat exhaustion include excessive lethargy, extreme fatigue, dizziness and mental changes such as not being able to think or speak clearly.

In addition to bringing these appropriate supplies, here’s some ways to prepare for the heat, according to Strasser:

  • Start drinking water long before you get on the court.
  • Get used to being in the heat.
  • Warm up slowly and stretch the best you can.

Strasser stressed the importance of taking these steps in the days before Hoopfest.

“In general, you want to start a good 24 hours ahead of time. What we don’t want, and I see this quite a bit, is people wait till they’re thirsty on the day of the event, and then they start drinking fluids. Then you’re already behind,” he said.

Players should err on the side of getting medical care at one of the tents if they believe they might be injured – either right away or at some point during the day.

“If the pain goes away quite quickly and they can play at the same caliber, they don’t always have to come in straight away,” Strasser said. “But if it’s limiting your function, and you have limited ability to walk, to ambulate, if you have limited ability to jump if you have limited ability to participate in the sport, and maintain safety in sport, then come and find us.”