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. 

 

 

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