31 Mar Handling Emergencies
Will you be ready when it really counts?
Emergencies arise for our clinic several times a week. Urgencies (situations that are less serious, but nonetheless require a same-day visit) occur even more frequently. Emergencies that must be seen as soon as possible are: foaling problems, uncontrollable bleeding, persistent uncontrollable abdominal pain, respiratory distress, shock, limb fractures, evisceration of any abdominal organ, prolapsed uterus or any situation where other horses or people are put in danger by a horse. In the next level of triage, common urgencies include ocular injuries, lacerations requiring stitches, esophageal choke, fevers of greater than 103°, retained placenta and profuse, watery diarrhea. In addition, our equine friends find many other ways to provide us with concern.
The best way for you to react to an emergency or urgent situation is to make a quick assessment, which includes the horse’s vital signs if possible (see First Aid Kit List), and then get to the phone. If you can, leave a responsible adult with the patient. Our emergency number is (585) 889-1170, day or night, seven days a week. Give clear, correct information. Be sure to give the correct telephone number where you can be reached, which is not always your home phone number! The answering service will page a message to the on-call DVM. You should then wait by the telephone and make no outgoing calls. Unless something is seriously awry, a veterinarian should contact you within ten minutes. If you hear nothing by then, call the answering service again. Depending on the situation, the DVM will give you instructions to follow until she can be there.
Once the vet has arrived, it is important that she be able to assess the horse in as favorable a situation as possible. We prefer to evaluate the horse in a well-lit, dry, slip-proof area. This is often the stall or the barn aisle. While waiting for the DVM, try to optimize the area where the horse is to be treated or examined by hanging lights or laying down mats. A bucket of warm water is often handy for use on the horse or the DVM.
It is wise to call as soon as you know you have a problem so that the office or on-call DVM can provide you, the patient and other patients with service in the most timely fashion. The office staff is accustomed to dealing with the timing of most of the urgencies listed above and will always consult with a DVM about appropriate timing if there is any question. You can be sure that we are very committed to providing thorough and timely care to all our patients.