By Matthew Langston
Leader’s Training Course
Under a bright sun, sweat rolls down the faces of Cadets. As they train throughout the day — pushing, pulling and working their way through demanding activities — perspiration drenches every layer of their clothing, even penetrating their thick uniforms.
Every summer, Cadets come to the Leader’s Training Course to work through the courses and are always met by Kentucky’s heat, but more notoriously, the humidity.
As Cadets spend most of their time on post, cadre members, course officials, medics and the weather station at Fort Knox constantly monitor the heat, which at times can pose a threat to those training in it.
Mother Nature already has made her presence felt. Temperatures this week climbed into the 90s for the first time this year and routinely climb close to 100 during June and July.
Mark Adams, supervisor and meteorological technician at the Fort Knox weather station, said that this summer likely won’t be any different.
“We’ll see temperatures commonly get into the mid to upper 90s,” Adams said. “On occasion, we do break 100.”
The average June temperature at Fort Knox average is 82.5 degrees. And although this June so far is on par with a current average of 83 degrees, it has been about five degrees hotter than average in recent days.
The heat tends to sometimes dictate how the Leader’s Training Course operates to ensure Cadets are exposed as little as possible and are at less risk of becoming a heat casualty.
Second Lt. Nicholas Lehman, a cadre member with Bravo Company, said precautions are being taken, such as having ice sheets available at all training sites to help Cadets who have difficulty overcoming the heat, with water being a major part of the equation as well.
Cadet Brian McDermott, a student at Penn State University, said cadre members always give advice on coping with the hot temperatures.
“They are constantly telling us to drink water,” he said. “We always load up on water.”
While hydration works as a preventative measure, water consumption must be done with caution. Although encouraged to drink plenty of water, Lehman said Cadets can become sick if too much is taken in. Cadets’ proper amount of water intake is determined by pairing the use of a water consumption chart and wet bulb globes, which are set up at every site and around the company areas.
The wet bulb measures the amount of heat and humidity in the air. Those levels help determine the acceptable level of work a Cadet can perform — easy, moderate or hard — during a particular time of day and how must rest someone should require.
Even though the temperatures have not bothered him and he has not seen anyone quit because of heat, McDermott thinks heat may start affecting Cadets during later parts of the cycle, when summer temperature typically peak.
If a Cadet is overcome by heat, one of the first points of treatment would be with a medic. Private 1st Class Craig Davie, a medic, said dehydration is a big concern and, considering how hot it is, can easily affect a Cadet.
“Depending on how dehydrated they are, I could just help them cool off, have them sit in somewhere cool and drink water,” Davie said. “If they became unconscious, you rapidly cool them with ice sheets and get them transported to the hospital for IVs.”
Lt. Col. Joseph Marsiglia, the officer in charge of medical operations, said there have been no injuries related to the heat thus far at LTC this summer.
Sergeant 1st Class James Erwin is the non-commissioned officer in charge of stream crossing. He said deciding on whether to close a course due to heat is made on a day-to-day basis.
While temperatures will seem more like spring this weekend through next week — with highs only in the low-80s — don’t expect an extended reprieve. As recent temperatures stayed well above the average for June, Adams said he anticipates this summer will be on par with most.