Now Event Riders Can Choose: Medical Armband or Medical Bracelet

The USEA's new medical rule clarified, with medical ID still required.
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The USEA's new medical rule clarified, with medical ID still required.

On March 3, the U.S. Eventing Association announced a change to the U.S. Equestrian Federation rule requiring riders to wear a medical-information armband while jumping at USEA-sanctioned events. The new rule allows riders to wear either a medical ID bracelet or a traditional armband. Download a PDF of this article, plus the November 2013 Medical ID bracelet article.

Credit: eventing_strassburger

Credit: eventing_strassburger

But the USEA release announcing this change only mentioned one brand of medical bracelets, Ride Safe, causing confusion among event riders. Wayne Quarles, chairman of the USEF Eventing Technical Committee, noted that no specific brand is mentioned in the actual rule. Jo Whitehouse, the USEA’s chief executive officer, said that all brands of medical bracelets are allowed, as long as they contain the information required by the new rule.

Whitehouse added that Ride Safe was named because owner Stephanie Davis is a USEA member, who, along with some upper-level riders on the USEA Board of Directors, suggested the rule change. Ride Safe is now a USEA sponsor.

“They felt it was a much more up-to-date technology and that it was more useful because the information can be much more detailed,” said Whitehouse.

Whitehouse emphasized that medical armbands are still required for all competitions sanctioned by the Federation Equestre International (CICs or CCIs). “This is purely a USEF rule. I don’t know when, or if, the FEI might change their rule,” she said.

In November 2013, Horse Journal published an evaluation that included four other brands of medical ID bracelets (LINK). These medical ID bracelets vary in a number of ways, including: Whether the bracelet contains all the information or just your name and the web address for more information; colors and styles of bracelets; depth of medical and contact information on file; and the expense of the bracelet and the amount of the annual fee.

In addition, one brand, ICEdot, also offers a helmet sensor that will automatically alert the designated contact person via text message if you fall.

While the usefulness of medical ID bracelets for trail riders or anyone riding alone is unquestionable, some event riders wonder if they’re as necessary today as they were when armbands were introduced two decades ago. After all, every rider in competition is identified by a number, and all cross-country courses have a controller and safety officer to track each rider’s progress. And in some states, first responders pointedly disregard ID bracelets and armbands for two reasons. First, because their state law does not permit them to rely on such unconfirmed information. Second, their imperative is to treat the patient in front of them, not to do research.

But both Whitehouse and Quarles said they’ve seen medical armbands used by first responders. Whitehouse said that the contact information is particularly pertinent for junior riders whose parents aren’t present.

“Every fall I have been present for as an official, the medical card was consulted by the medical team once the initial assessment was done and before being transported or treated,” said Quarles.

The entire rule, which becomes effective April 1, reads:

EV113 Medical Requirements [CHAPTER EV-1 General Rules for all Eventing Competitions] change to read:

3. MEDICAL CARDS/MEDICAL BRACELETS. An approved and completed medical card or medical bracelet is required any time while jumping.Medical cards must be enclosed in a transparent, waterproof carrier. It Medical cards must be securely attached to the competitor's upper arm on the outside of the competitor's clothing. Medical bracelets must be visible on the competitor's wrist. Medical cards must include any relevant medical history, injury (particularly to the head), drug allergies and current medication. If wearing a medical bracelet, any relevant medical history injury (particularly to the head) drug allergies and current medication must be included in the online medical form of the bracelet's vendor website. Athletes are responsible to record all injuries on the card or in the case of a medical bracelet, update their medical information online. Failure to wear one's own medical card or bracelet shall be penalized by a fine of $100. (Payable to the Organizing Committee)

We hope the following information will provide additional clarity regarding this rule change:

  • Medical bracelets which do not provide access to the information required per EV113.3 on a vendor website are not permissible at this time. Any member of the USEF may submit a rule change proposal to include language in the rule which may allow use of bracelets which carry the information on or within them.
  • The USEF does not have a list of approved manufacturers or suppliers of medical bracelets. All medical bracelets which meet the criteria prescribed in EV113.1 are considered acceptable. As long as the information prescribed in the rule is included in the online medical form of the bracelet’s vendor website it is acceptable for use in USEF Endorsed/Recognized Eventing Competitions.
  • There is no requirement for information to be displayed on the bracelet itself.
  • At this time the FEI Eventing Rules do not allow use of medical bracelets.