Medics on site for riding mishaps

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 July, 2008, 12:00am

A biological or other terrorist attack is the worst-case scenario that Hong Kong's equestrian organisers have prepared for. But in reality, the worst that is likely to happen is riders falling off their horses - a nasty enough experience, according to the Hospital Authority.

Twenty-nine medical teams and 17 ambulances will be on site during the Beas River cross-country event on August 11. A neurosurgeon will also be present. 'A contingency plan is in place to handle falls, and the medical team has attended training and drills for such an eventuality,' a spokeswoman said.

Also, the Prince of Wales Hospital will have a full trauma team on standby during the Olympic and Paralympic period.

'Contingency plans are also in place at North District Hospital, the nearest hospital to Beas River.'

The authority's chief executive Shane Solomon said the worst-case scenario would be bioterrorism or a bomb, but even these had been planned for. He said in such a case the emergency plan would concentrate on triage between hospitals.

'We have a plan as to what patients will be distributed where. We hope it will not happen but we have to be prepared for it,' he said. 'We don't believe there is anything on the actual event side that will cause us problems.'

The Hospital Authority presented a paper to its board this month which said that, with good planning and measures such as advice on heatstroke and water fountains at venues, the number of people needing treatment 'is not expected to be large'.

Beatrice Cheng, a senior manager at the authority in charge of equestrian plans, said all sorts of scenarios had been played out.

'Even trophies being presented can be high-risk. During the presentation, winners will still be on horseback. The flash from cameras may affect the horses and could be dangerous,' she said.

She said the authority had all the supplies it might need, including medical equipment, protective gear, information technology backup and communications infrastructure.