A study into equestrian accidents by Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance has been published in The European Journal of Emergency Medicine.
Dr Richard Lyon and Paramedic Ben Macauley carried out a survey of horse riding accidents attended by the charity’s helicopters during a one-year period.
The figures show that from July 1st, 2011, to July 1st, 2012, there were 47 incidents attended by the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) – about three per cent of its total annual call-outs.
In 15 cases (36 per cent), the patient was airlifted to hospital and in four cases the rider was anaesthetised at scene - an advanced medical procedure usually performed only in hospital.
Dr Lyon said: “Equestrian accidents represent a significant proportion of HEMS missions. The majority of patients….do not require HEMS intervention. However, a small proportion have life-threatening injuries, requiring immediate critical intervention.
“Reports of the horse landing on the patient, lack of a riding helmet and the rider landing on their head were associated with the highest rates of direct transport to a major trauma centre.
“Accurate HEMS tasking is important to ensure appropriate use of this valuable medical resource. We sought to review the HEMS response to equestrian accidents and identify factors associated with the need for HEMS intervention or transport of the patient to a major trauma centre.”
A total of 12 patients had suffered a loss of consciousness, eight were noted to be confused during the 999 call while one suffered a seizure.
When asked about their fall, 13 patients were found to have fallen on a hard landing, six had the horse land on top of them and three landed on their head.
The majority of patients were female (71 per cent) aged from six to 72 with the majority of the call-outs in autumn and winter.
According to a survey by the British Equestrian Trade Association, a total of 3.5million people ride a horse each year.
Dr Lyon added: “While recent data has emerged suggesting that the rate of injury is relatively low in the context of the millions of participants involved in the sport, the rate of severe injury is much higher than that of other high risk sports such as American football, motorcycle and automobile racing.”
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