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Rodeo medics saddle up for broken bones and bruises

Posted at 5:29 PM, Feb 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-24 19:55:20-05
When a rider gets bucked off, there's always a chance for an injury. That's when the Tucson Rodeo medics come in to help.
"When you're working with livestock, anything can happen," said Aden Chapa, a handler with Tucson Rodeo Performace.
The Tucson Rodeo Medic team, sponsored by Justin Boots, is on call before, during and after all events.
"We're the first responders," said Jenny Wyly, a medic at the Tucson Rodeo who works full time as an athletic trainer with the University of Arizona football team.
Wyly and her team are parked next to the arena in a trailer equipped like a professional athletic training room. It's outfitted to prepare riders for everyday competition and emergency treatment.
"We see a lot of neck, shoulder, back stuff on our bareback and saddle bronc riders," said Wyly.
Bull riding sees more unique injuries: "We see anything on bull riders...fractures from getting stomped on or bucked off from a height," said Wyly.
But sometimes, it's not the riders getting hurt, it's the handlers, like Chapa, keeping the riders safe.
Chapa has broken ribs, had teeth knocked out, and had fingers and toe bones crushed.
"I got caught between the gate and the bull," said Chapa. "And the bull decided that he wanted to play with me, and all I had was the gate between me and the gate offered no protection, so I took a pretty good hookin'."
Chapa says one small slip could be the difference between life and death or severe bodily injury.
"You let yourself, your guard down for just a minute, and they'll take full advantage, they'll really mess you up," said Chapa.
But for the medics, they say they're out in the arena less than you'd think.
"These are professional athletes, and so, as dangerous as it is, you'll rarely see us in the arena because these are the top level competitors," said Wyly.
Competitors that depend on medics like Wyly to get them in their best shape to get out of the medical trailer and back into the arena.