There were some tense moments outside the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington event. Frustrations were high after attendees waited in security lines up to two hours. As News4's Tom Sherwood reports, some people were even hospitalized after passing out from the heat.
As security checkpoint lines backed up, several people reportedly passed out due to heat exhaustion while waiting to get into Wednesday's 'Let Freedom Ring' ceremony on the National Mall.
D.C. resident Lauren Breland got in line at 10 a.m. -- and two hours later, she said she could stretch out and touch the spot she started in. But it's not the crowd that's concerning her; it's the fact that emergency crews are having trouble getting through.
"People have heat exhaustion, you have all ages here," she said. "Somebody just went down. And the problem is you can't get to your folks.... And if you just see folks waving their hands, you're not going to think it's a 911 situation. I haven't seen any emergency vehicles."
Some emergency medical technicians are on foot in the crowd. Around noon, NBC Washington's Mila Mimica (@MilaMimica1) said EMTs are whistling every six or seven minutes, trying to get through the throngs to reach those having trouble.
At least four people have passed out, Breland said.
A large crowd standing behind a metal barrier chanted "Let us in, let us in" repeatedly as mounted U.S. Park Police officers stood watch.
Several people took to social media to describe the problems.
four people standing near me behind WWII memorial have gone down. Fortunately people in crowd w/med experience coming to help.
— Robert C. Bobb (@RobertCBobb) August 28, 2013
Temperatures at mid-day Wednesday were hovering around 80. At the 1963 March, the high reached just 83, but more than 1,300 attendees were treated for heat exhaustion.
There’s only one checkpoint at Breland's location east of the Lincoln Memorial, near the Pacific side of the World War II Memorial -- and a crowd of thousands, she estimated.
"It is just a mob that comes in straight from Constitution and 17th, because they only have three ways that they're letting folks in...." she said. "It's a ruly crowd, it's not unruly..."
The attendees who spoke to News4's Tom Sherwood were split -- some were patient; some were furious. Several ambulances were standing by, with one man sitting on a gurney, he said.
Breland said there were only a handful of checkpoint lanes, and no end in sight.
"It's incredible. It's dangerous," Breland said. "There's no lines, there's no orderliness of it. Folks are taking it in stride; it's just the damages that could result from this."
Two cooling buses are nearby, but far enough away that not everyone might be aware of them, Sherwood said.
Watch NBCWashington Wednesday for live streaming of the events starting at 11 a.m.