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New medical armband rule sparks debate

Medical armbands will no longer be compulsory in British Eventing (BE), causing some debate within the eventing community.

The cards, which riders have traditionally strapped to their arms and that contain medical information such as their doctor’s name and number, details of any existing medical conditions and allergies, and previous serious injuries, are now optional.

Mike Crockford of Event Paramedic Services Ltd, which covers several events in the southeast including Chilham, Eridge, Firle and South of England, told H&H that he was “baffled” by the move.

“I’ve been a paramedic at BE events for 17 years and have only ever had to refer to a rider’s medical card twice, but I still consider it to be really useful,” he said.

“A rider could have a fall that leaves them unconscious and we could find out by looking at their card that they are diabetic. Who is to say whether the fall or the medical condition caused their loss of consciousness?”

BE is advising that a rider should continue to wear an armband — with a new insert available from BE events — if they have a condition that may impact on their care in the case of an emergency.

BE’s safety office Jonathan Clissold explained that the decision had come as a result of feedback from FEI doctors and medical officials.

“Riders were not keeping them up to date; there was often information missing, the handwriting was illegible and in some instances they weren’t even wearing their own bands,” he said. “Now, the onus is on the rider to decide whether they want to wear one.”

Many riders that H&H spoke to said they will continue to wear their cards.

Karen Knight, who has competed up to two-star, said: “I had a bad rotational fall a couple of years ago which left me with a lot of injuries, and I’m also allergic to penicillin. I wouldn’t want to risk anyone not being aware of these things.”

Ref: Horse & Hound; 2 April 2015

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