Friend L was going to trailer up and meet me after her lesson so we could catch up and go for a quick hack down to the beach. She arrived just as my lesson was finished and coach S drove away. We said a quick hello and she started getting ready to get her horse out of the trailer. I turned around to let Bridget eat some better grass and only heard what happened next. End result, L's horse went flying past us into the road intersection. "Oops, I'll go grab him", I said, and went and quickly caught him. When I turned around with both horses in tow, I realized something was very wrong. Either L had taken the opportunity to have a nap in the middle of the road, or she was unconscious. "I got this", I thought, and immediately dialed 911. Except there was no cell service...and now L was starting to convulse and there was a lot of blood, and I'm still holding two horses with nowhere to safely tie/put them- L is laying in front of the trailer door and I know an ambulance with a siren is coming eventually. Shoot, first aid courses don't account for any of that.
I could hear the 911 operator but she couldn't hear me. I could hear her saying they had no way to find me. So I called S repeatedly, as she's a first responder and had just driven away. I figured some calls might at least ring, and enough dropped calls from me and she might come back. In the meantime, the normally busy road was the quietest I've ever seen it. No help there. I ran over to a neightbour's house with horses in tow who thank goodness was home and called the ambulance. In that interval, S did indeed come back to see if I was OK and quickly got L stabilized. The ambulance arrived super fast, and I basically just stood back and kept the horses safe and out of the way. L is going to be in the hospital for a little while, but should be OK, thank goodness.
Nicole at Zen And The Art Of Baby Horse Management wrote an excellent post a month or two ago about being good in crisis. I can't improve on her post - seriously, go read it here.
Here are some things I learned today and thought I might add/reiterate:
- Lots of workplaces and organizations offer free first aid training. Take it. Take it whether you think you`d be comfortable helping in an emergency or not. Trust me, I get panicky and am the last person you want helping you. But I was the only one there. And I was glad I had a little bit of an idea of what to look for, what to say to L, and what to tell the first responders. Even though I just wanted to run away and go cry somewhere.
- Have a plan. I had no clue how to contact L`s husband, no clue where her truck keys were, all that stuff. If you`re riding out with a friend, make sure they know who to contact in an emergency and anything special the first aid crew or even the person looking after your horse needs to know. Keep your phone on you, have a contact labelled `husband`, `call in an emergency`whatever.
-Tell the ambulance crew to drive up carefully, with siren off. Because horses.
- If you ride in an area that doesn`t have cell service, plan for that. The ring we were at apparently has in and out service - I didn`t realize that or have a plan until I really needed it! I`m not sure what to advise here beyond a sat phone if you`re out of service areas regularly, but maybe have a pre arranged place to go - like the trail head, or a neighbour`s house to call out from. That way if person wakes up they`re hopefully not thinking you abandoned them! Whatever the case, think about it first and have a plan before you end up in a bad spot.
- I, for one, am going to start wearing my helmet when I load/unload horses or on the ground in any other situation where things could get weird (lunging, leading somewhere spooky/on a road, etc).
-Ground manners, everyone. While this isn`t a super issue, I feel I should mention it because the only reason I was able to corral and keep two horses safely out of the way/traffic was because one of them (Bridget, bless you forever) knows to stand and stay out of my space. In another situation, we might have had someone non horsey handling one of the horses. Knowing they can be handled safely by others would be a huge help.
Sorry for the serious post, but I feel like this is one of those subjects that's just so important. You don't know how important it is until you're standing there feeling completely helpless. Trust me.