Hunter one of state's worst places for livestock emergencies

THE Hunter has been named among the state’s top hotspots for injuries involving cows and bulls, prompting a warning from NSW Ambulance for people to take care on farms.

The Hunter Region had 38 incidents involving cows and bulls where paramedics were needed in the past two years, placing it second behind only the New England region, with 53 incidents.

Across the state, paramedics were called to a total of 700 injuries involving bulls, cows, quad bikes and tractors from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2017, according to data released on Tuesday as part of National Farm Safety Week.

NSW Ambulance Superintendent Steve Flanagan said incidents involving livestock and vehicles such as quad bikes and tractors were leading to significant injuries and could be fatal.

“Farms can be dangerous places that have a dynamic level of risk and a few safety precautions will help minimise injuries and loss of livelihood and – worse – life,” Superintendent Flanagan said.

NSW paramedics were called to 319 incidents involving quad bikes and 115 involving tractors during the period. Again the Hunter was second, with 46 call outs, just behind New England with 50.

For tractors, the Murrumbidgee region topped the list with 21 incidents, followed by Mid North Coast (15) and Hunter and Southern zones (14 each).

According to Farmsafe Australia, tractors, farm machinery and quad bikes were the leading cause of non-intentional farm injury death, nationally in 2016. Another 32 deaths have been recorded so far this year (nine for quad bikes, four for tractors).

Superintendent Flanagan said these statistics demonstrated vehicles and machinery used on farms could pose significant exposure to risks, so consideration needed to be given to safety measures such as helmets and other protective gear.

“The terrain should also be assessed before using a tractor or quad bike, to avoid rollovers, whether that be on a large productive farm or a smaller rural property” he said.

“Often, these vehicles are used in remote locations and if a person becomes trapped, it can be many hours before the alarm can be raised and help arrives, ensuring someone knows where you are.”

Superintendent Flanagan cautioned against young children riding, or being carried as passengers, on quad bikes.

“Children don’t have the experience or strength to operate these vehicles or fully appreciate the risks they could be exposed to,” he said.

“We’ve also attended several instances of children being carried in adults’ laps and being catapulted during rollovers and in difficult terrain.

“Basically, we would advise against any practice that is being shown to be a leading cause of injury.”

He said that, in the case of serious injury, people should contact Triple Zero (000).

People were encouraged to download the free Emergency+ smartphone app, which assists the caller in dialling Triple Zero (000) and displays the GPS coordinates of the phone’s location.


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