08/19/2015 2:46PM

Badly injured valet experiences long wait for ambulance


A series of unrelated incidents resulted in a chaotic situation and delayed the transport of injured valet William Hollick from the paddock area of Delaware Park to nearby Christiana Medical Center on Tuesday.

Hollick, 46, was badly hurt while helping trainer Arnaud Delacour saddle One Show Only for the fourth race. According to Delacour, the filly lunged forward and to the side, forcing Hollick into a pole that supports the paddock roof. Hollick suffered multiple injuries in the accident, including a concussion, broken ribs, a punctured lung, a broken collarbone, broken teeth, and an ear laceration, according to Robert Colton, director of the Delaware Jockeys’ Association.

Hollick, a former rider who exercises horses in the morning and works as a valet in the afternoon, was treated by emergency medical technicians on the scene but was not placed in an ambulance for somewhere between 23 and 28 minutes, according to John Mooney, the director of racing at Delaware Park.

Although there were six EMTs and four ambulances on the grounds at the time of the accident, the ambulance that transported Hollick to the hospital came from off-site after Hollick’s wife, Kassi, who works in the test barn, called 911.

One ambulance had been dispatched to a “minor accident in the stable area,” Mooney said.

Just prior to Hollick’s accident, a patron had fallen on the grandstand apron by the winner’s circle, according to Mooney. The two EMTs who treated the patron went straight to the paddock to assist Hollick. Because they came from the winner’s circle rather than the first-aid room, they did not have access to an ambulance. They also are instructed not to leave the scene when assisting an injured person, and according to Mooney, “they mistakenly assumed an ambulance would be there shortly.”

After Hollick was injured, a decision was made to send the horses and riders to the track.

“We didn’t want to have another accident with the horses in the paddock and thought it was best to send them to the track,” Mooney said.

Once the horses and riders entered the track, the EMTs in the ontrack ambulette and ambulance have instructions not to leave.

Further delaying the ambulance, the outside emergency medical teams mistook where the accident occurred and went to the stable gate, according to Mooney.

After the fourth race was run and the valets and jockeys returned and saw Hollick still on the ground in the paddock, emotions reportedly escalated, and the valets and jockeys decided not to work the rest of the card, resulting in the cancellation of the day’s last four races. Racing resumed Wednesday.

A Wednesday morning meeting was held to run through the sequence of events that occurred following Hollick’s accident. The meeting was attended by Delaware Park officials, a jockeys’ representative, and Delaware Racing Commission staff.

At the meeting, Bill Fasy, the president of Delaware Park, called the situation, “absolutely unacceptable” and said Delaware Park takes responsibility for the problem and will make sure it never happens again, according to Colton.

The Delaware Park safety committee was scheduled to meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday to review all safety rules and procedures.

In addition to discussing improved ambulance dispatch, according to Colton, the committee will discuss adding padding to the saddling stalls and roof-support poles; having valets wear safety vests; and giving valets more authority on where to saddle.

Both Colton and Mooney said that in hindsight, the fourth race could have been canceled and one of the ambulances sent to the paddock.

“The riders should have been told to get off their horses, and one of the two ambulances should have been dispatched,” Colton said.

“We could have canceled the race, but at the time, we didn’t think there was going to be a delay in getting an ambulance there,” Mooney said.

Kassi Hollick said Wednesday she has a lawyer, but, “My main goal is to get William healthy, home, and recovered.

“Things have got to be changed, fixed,” she added. “I don’t want anyone else to have to wait like he did. This is a dangerous sport. People can be hurt in a split second. You have to be ready and know what you’re doing and be able to handle the situation.”