Tag Archives: Polo

Field of Honor 2/2

To the fire lieutenant as we’re loading up the ambulance, “Can you please call PD and have the poor steed put out of its misery?”

He laughs as he’s closing the rear doors to the ambulance, “I was thinking a mechanic might be more appropriate.”

I tell my partner we can start transporting and since it’s a fairly non-emergent call I’m chatting with my patient as I double check all of his vitals.

“Seriously, Segway polo? When did you start playing that?” I’m still having a hard time not laughing at the whole spectacle of the last few minutes. All of the participants were pale skinned, greasy haired, tech workers, looking like they just escaped from the cubicle jungle for a few hours of sunshine. Or possibly their employer kicks them out at lunch to prevent the workforce from succumbing to a vitamin D deficiency. My patient is a little older and has the look of a middle management office worker who was trying to keep up with the younger guys and inadvertently took a spill.

Segway polo is similar to horse polo, except that instead of playing on horseback, each player rides a Segway PT on the field. The rules have been adapted from bicycle polo and horse polo.

“We’ve been playing for maybe a year now. There’s a company that sponsors the event and they deliver the Segways to the park every Friday. We’ve had a pretty solid group of guys for a while now so we’re thinking of setting up a match against another company.”

I put the capnography nasal cannula on him to track his quality of breathing. Given his body style – tall and thin – I want to keep an eye out for the possibility of developing a tension pneumothorax. I can see that he is in a significant amount of pain by the waveform and the shallow tachypnea that I’m seeing on the monitor.

The Segway Polo world championship is the Woz Challenge Cup, sponsored by Steve Wozniak of Apple Computer. The first match was played in 2006 when the Silicon Valley Aftershocks played the New Zealand Pole Blacks in Auckland, New Zealand. The result was a 2-2 tie.

I start an IV and administer some Morphine to reduce the pain level a bit. After a few minutes I can see it’s working as the respiration waveform on the capnography monitor is starting to elongate to a normal shape. My patient eases back into the gurney in a more relaxed position as I turn the lights out and move to the chair behind his head so I can tap away at my computer to document the strange events of the last few minutes.

The spectacle of the Segway Polo players sticks in my head not so much as an oddity yet more as a somewhat sad evolution of a noble and practical sport – the sport of kings has beed usurped by the nerds. At one time the elite military horsemen of kingdoms would compete against each other to hone skills for warcraft. Now, with the advances in technology making personal conveyance machines more practical and the global economic woes making horse ownership less practical, the original sport is in rapid decline as the anachronistic adaptation gains traction.

The whole episode makes me think of other areas of warcraft that have evolved over the centuries. At one time a skilled archer would put countless hours into honing his skills with the bow in the hopes of defending his homeland from invasion and putting dinner on the table. Today any random gang-banger sticks a Glock out the window of a moving car and indiscriminately takes a life with the pull of a trigger finger.

Ultimately, the whole episode makes me just a little sad – not so much for this individual episode of life gone wrong – yet more so for the social commentary that can be extrapolated from my overall observations of the evolution of our society.

My patient did in fact have separated cartilage in two ribs and a hair-line fracture on one rib. He was sent home a few hours later with instructions to limit physical activity for a few weeks and a prescription for pain medication.

His trusty steed, the Segway, made a full recovery after a tune up by the mechanic. 



Field of Honor 1/2

field of hon·or

1 – a scene of a duel

2 – a region where a battle is being, or has been, fought

3 – the scene of the final battle between the kings of the earth at the end of the world

Polo strategy on hitting: Get your hand high for a long shot. Hit through the ball. Keep your arm straight until it passes forward and above the shoulder. Give yourself space hitting the ball – not too close to the horse. Take your time on the ball. Ride your horse before your hit the ball. Set your horse up for the shot.

Jamie Le Hardy – Polo Champion

He lays in the field of battle next to his trusty steed, writhing in pain and struggling to breathe; diaphragm spasming to the point that the lungs can’t function. Other combatants stand around him swaying in the awkward forward and backwards rocking motion that is unique to their mode of transportation. His polo mallet lays nestled in the grass next to him after causing the accident. His steed lies nearly lifeless just a few feet further away.

The origins of Polo date back to the 5th century BC in Persia where elite calvary units of the king’s guard used the game as simulated horseback battle.

As I walk up to the players on the polo field they canter away in their awkward little leaning motions to give me more room to inspect my new patient. We arrived with the fire fighters so our little entourage is trudging across the field while we carry bags and push a gurney to the crumpled man in the middle of the “field of honor.”

As with any injury of this nature one of my first concerns are the integrity of the neck and the neuro-function of the extremities. I run my patient through the battery of simple neurological tests while one of the other polo players recounts the events leading up to the injury.

Sultan Qutb-ud-din Aibak, the Turkish Emperor of North India, ruled as an emperor for only four years, from 1206 to 1210. He died accidentally in 1210 playing polo.

“Jim was shuffling the ball towards the goal and one of the defenders started to crowd him. It was totally legal and everything, he was just defending. So Jim went to score and took a big wind up with the mallet. When he took the shot his mallet got caught in the undercarriage of his mount and he got thrown. He didn’t pass out or anything but it looked like he couldn’t breathe so we called you guys.”

After all the neuro tests come back with no issues I sit Jim up and assess for any obvious abrasions, bruising, or swelling that would indicate a problem. Nothing really looks out of place until I encircle his rib cage with my hands and have him take a big breath. Jim practically jumps out of his skin with painful sensations shooting from his flank to the middle of his back. A closer inspection shows that the ribs are stable enough but it’s very likely that he separated some of the cartilage where the ribs connect to the spine. It’s not a critical injury but it’s worthy of some x-rays and sign-off by a doctor. Once I listen to his lungs I’m satisfied that the injury is probably localized to the ribs and not involving a collapsed lung – I’m ready to transport. I’m just worried about his poor steed laying in the grass, barely moving, with pitiful whimpering noises coming in small gasps.

To the fire lieutenant as we’re loading up the ambulance, “Can you please call PD and have the poor steed put out of his misery.”

Military officers imported the game of polo to Britain in the 1860s. The establishment of polo clubs throughout England and western Europe followed after the formal codification of rules.