How do you handle a human emergency at the barn?
Unfortunately, not all emergencies at the barn are horse accidents. Many are horse related, and sometimes the people get hurt. You can, with some careful planning, have a plan and a course of action to follow if someone does get hurt.
Most barns have some rules for boarders and students to follow, which is a great starting place when creating a human emergency protocol at the barn. For example, you may have a barn where you are not permitted to ride at certain hours or on a certain day, as there may not be anyone else on the property. Helmet rules are also common to find in a list of barn rules.
As well thought out as your barn rules and guidelines may be, it’s still a good idea to create an emergency plan. Some things to think about:
-Is there a land line phone in the barn? Mobile phone service may not be reliable. Put the farm address and land line number next to the phone so that someone talking to 911 operators can give the correct address.
-Are emergency contact numbers for boarders and students readily available? Or are they lost in pile of papers somewhere on a desk that may or not be organized? (Idea to put them on a big list of boarder’s contact info?)
-When help arrives, does the fire department know how to get to your farm? Which gate to go through, how to turn around, how not to get stuck?
-If your gates are opened with a clicker or remote, does everyone know the actual codes for emergency services to get in?
If you have an emergency and there are extra hands around, everyone can pitch in and help. There’s a lot to be done while waiting for help:
-Listen to the emergency service operator and follow instructions.
-Catch any loose horses and secure them in stalls or paddocks. Put all horses away! Sirens and big trucks could spook a horse in the cross ties.
-Make sure the trucks and emergency services can get in and out. Move cars if need be, and open all gates and keep them open. Gates usually have a sensor that you can cover so that it remains open.
-Call the emergency contact of the injured person if appropriate.
-Have a first aid kit for humans available. Know how to use it! This may also include some ice packs in the freezer if need be.
-Take a CPR class! Stay certified!
I have been around several human accidents at the barn, and strangely enough most of them didn’t directly involve horses…. (And yes, some of them were my accidents and yes I’m clumsy..) In all cases, things have gone smoothly when people did things to help the situation instead of standing back and watching. Even if you are putting a horse safely back in his stall, you are helping create a safer environment. After a barn mate fell from her horse, we used an umbrella to shade her from the blazing sun while help arrived. One of the most important things is to listen to the emergency operator and clear the way for firetrucks and ambulances.
What advice do you have?