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‘We must minimise risk’: eventer’s eight hours in hospital highlights scale of Covid pandemic

An eventer who spent eight hours in hospital after a fall at home said the situation brought the reality of the pandemic home.

Former young rider European team silver medallist Sasha Hargreaves said she has made some changes to her routine at home since her fall, with a young horse in December.

She told H&H the horse stumbled on landing from a small fence and came down on her.

“I banged my head in the process, and he landed on one of my legs,” she said.

“I was immobilised straight away and we called for an ambulance, but they said there would be a delay.”

Sasha said it was 90 minutes until a first responder turned up.

“The first responder was concerned about whether I might have broken my neck, and said ‘we’ll just have to keep you here till the ambulance arrives, but I don’t know when that will be’,” she said.

“I wasn’t allowed any pain relief and although I was given hot water bottles and rugs, my temperature had dropped two degrees by the time an ambulance arrived, two and a half hours later.”

Sasha said that when she got to hospital, there were no beds and no spaces for her.

“I was in hospital eight hours,” she said. “I was in a corridor for several hours, then scanned and X-rayed, and put back in a corridor.”

Sasha said a member of NHS staff told her the situation was busier than it had been for a long time — and Oxfordshire was not in the highest tier in relation to coronavirus cases at the time.

“He said they’d had to pick some paramedics up on their way to us, they didn’t have enough vehicles and people were having to wait in ambulances as there was nowhere for them at the hospitals. And this was a month ago, so I can’t imagine how bad it is now.”

Sasha said she was very lucky, not only in that she had not broken anything but also because she did not herself pick up Covid. And she has since made some changes.

“I was playing it safe when I had my fall; wearing everything I should be and jumping a height the horse could do easily, in an arena, but it was a freak accident,” she said.

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“I was told at the hospital I was a high priority, but that they couldn’t get to me any sooner because there were so many people there. It was scary, and certainly not an experience I’d want to repeat.

“Now, it’s about minimising every risk possible; it’s not like it was in spring when horses could be turned away; I’ve got 22 in the yard who need to be ridden but if any of them might be fresh, they’re lunged first, and I’ve sent two that could go off on holiday.

“As riders we’re programmed not to focus too much on the risks involved, but for now, while hospitals are under such pressure, every time we get on a horse we need to think about what we can do to minimise the risks.”

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