An estimated 160,000 visitors entered the hallowed ground that is Burghley Park across the duration of this weekend. You can only begin to imagine the complexity of not only keeping the event running smoothly, but also keeping the visiting crowds safe and sound. Once up and running Burghley is the size of a small town, and the resources that go into making this weekend possible are impressive. I for one was completely oblivious to the extent to which Burghley goes to keep both it's visitors and competitors safe.
As a volunteer doctor this year I was lucky enough to gain a valuable insight into the workings of Burghley Horse Trials. Not only is there a large number of medical staff in attendance but there is provision of all emergency services. In today's world where safety is a huge concern major incident protocols and plans have to be decided, rehearsed and refined. For those who work in event management this will all sound very normal but I for one had never before put much thought to this.
Burghley doctors are all volunteers, and there is around fifty of them! Each fence has a dedicated fence doctor, there is a host of General Practitioners in the first aid tent, and on Saturday an air ambulance helicopter is on site with a crew ready to take injured patients out to hospital if needed. That's not to mention all of the Red Cross and St John's ambulance staff who do such a fantastic job. A full day of training takes place the Saturday before Burghley for all the doctors. It takes staff through simulated scenarios and outlines the quirks of Burghley which can make managing emergency situations difficult. Issues such as crowd control, patient privacy on course, and of course horse management are important to consider in advance of the day and are easily overlooked.
This year I was located down in Discovery Valley and the beautiful weather, incredible riding and great crowds made for an enjoyable day. The riders and horses did a fantastic job at a set of tricky fences, and those who fell were up and walking in seconds. Albeit a few very scary seconds while I grabbed my bag and headed over to them. The adrenaline rush was like no other, being surrounded by a huge hushed crowd, just hoping that the fallen rider doesn't need your help.
I hold a new respect for those who organise the mammoth challenge that is Burghley Horse Trials, and I thank them for their hard work and dedication. It is such a fantastic event and one at which I hope to be a volunteer for many years to come. I have left this weekend re-invigorated with both enthusiasm for my profession and passion for eventing.
Rider number 51, Sophie Brown and Wil on course on Saturday