Easy ride for medics at horse events

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 August, 2008, 12:00am

Medical staff at the Olympic equestrian competitions in Hong Kong have needed to treat only minor injuries so far.

Chan Shiu-kwan, assistant chief ambulance officer of the Fire Services Department, said a few spectators and staff with minor injuries, such as sprains and bruising, or people who had fainted, had been treated inside the equestrian venues at Sha Tin and Beas River since the events started on Saturday.

'Only very few of them needed to be sent to hospitals,' said Mr Chan, who refused to disclose the exact number of injuries.

He said his staff had been working with the Hospital Authority and the Hong Kong St John Ambulance to provide first-aid services at the equestrian venues.

Aside from routine training, all ambulance officers on duty at the venues have attended two special sessions to learn how to deal with horses and help injured riders.

Senior ambulance officer Wong Ying-keung said part of their responsibility was to help vets handle horses in the event of an accident.

'We are taught to approach a horse from its left side...,' he said. '[And] at the same time, we have to watch its movements closely.'

Since all the riders need to wear a protective vest during competition, rescuers have been trained to remove vests from riders who are hurt, without aggravating any injuries.

'But so far, we haven't had the chance to use our skills,' said Mr Wong. The rescue team is also paying close attention to riders' medication. Injections of sodium chloride, dextrose, ventolin and adrenaline are banned for riders, though they are commonly used in first-aid services.

'They are likely to affect athletes' doping test results. So we must ask for a doctor's opinion and have the athlete sign an agreement if we really need to use it,' Mr Wong said.