Horse rider crushed during polo match praises air ambulance charity

A WOMAN feels lucky to be alive after being crushed by a horse suffering broken ribs and a punctured lung.

Vanessa Whiteley, 27, has praised crews from Thames Valley Air Ambulance (TVAA) 10 years after her horrific accident.

When she was 17-years-old, Ms Whiteley was crushed by her horse suffering broken bones down one side of her body, as well as one rib puncturing her lung and another puncturing her liver.

TVAA crews and a helicopter attended the scene and immediately performed a chest drain. She was then airlifted to John Radcliffe and remained in intensive care for nine days.

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Vanessa is now the face of TVAA’s Summer Raffle and is encouraging people to lend their support to the charity.

She said: “When I had my fall, I didn’t know if anyone would be there to rescue me. You never know when you might be in need.

“Travelling away from that event in time is strange for me. Getting back to being brave again has been my challenge ever since. Thames Valley Air Ambulance rely solely on donations and fundraising for the charity for the last nine years has given me a purpose.”

Equestrian incidents often lead to serious or life-changing injuries, requiring expert intervention. Over a third (38) of the riders suffered fractures, with 12 sustaining head injuries.

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Since 2018, Thames Valley Air Ambulance crews have delivered critical care to 99 horse riders giving them the best chance of survival and recovery when the worst happens.

For these injured riders, the pain relief and procedures that TVAA crews offer over and above a regular ambulance can make all the difference.

Worryingly, a quarter of all incidents (25) happened during the months of May and June, a busy time for horse riders and polo players.

Richard Company, senior critical care paramedic at Thames Valley Air Ambulance, said: “Equestrian emergencies can mean extra hurdles for our crews to overcome. With the sheer weight of the horse and the fact that riders are often travelling at speed, we are likely to encounter severe injuries and shock. For incidents where spectators have witnessed the event, it can be very traumatic for bystanders too.

“The advanced drugs and kit that our expert crews carry mean we give patients the best possible chance of survival and recovery. Whether it is sedation, pain relief or performing an intervention then and there – we bring the hospital to the horse rider.”

Visit www.tvairambulance.org.uk/raffle to find out more.

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