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Contestant injured at Ag Expo rodeo

August 02, 1999|By GREG SIMMONS

Several hundred people attended Dave Martin's Championship Rodeo Sunday at the Washington County Ag Expo, but even family events can be violent.

Becki Burtner, 42, of Keedysville, and her daughter Demi, 6, sat on the lawn across the ring at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center, where the rodeo was held. Demi said she was looking forward to the ostrich riding.

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Becki said she didn't bring Demi to "Bullride Mania" Saturday night because "it was a little graphic last year."

But Sunday night had its share of violence.

Jeff Rautensterausch was riding a bull when he was thrown and then stepped on by the bucking animal. A flap of skin had been pulled from underneath his right arm, exposing his ribs, said Dawn Kauffmann, head nurse for the Rodeo Trauma Team, which the rodeo hires to aid fallen riders.

Kauffmann was the first person to aid Rautensterausch.

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Sharpsburg Emergency Medical Services took Rautensterausch to Washington County Hospital, where he was received in stable condition, a nursing supervisor said.

The bulls weigh about 1,600 pounds, said Dave Martin, owner of the rodeo company.

Dave Martin's Championship Rodeo is sanctioned in the American Professional Rider's Association. He produced his first sanctioned rodeo in 1975.

Darren Griffith and his wife, Carmen, sat in the top row of the bleachers at the show ring with his mother and cousin. Carmen, 28, of Keedysville, said she enjoyed the ladies' barrel racing. Darren, also 28, said he was there to see the bull riding, and he was even interested in taking bull riding lessons, which he said are about $75 to $80.

"(My cousin and I) come for the action. She comes for the 'figure eights.' Not that we want anyone to get hurt, but that's the exciting part," Darren said.

"These guys have gotta be tough," he said.

According to the rodeo sanctioning rules, the local rescue company must be present, said Gail Attanasio, a sports therapist hired by the rodeo. But the rodeo hires extra help.

Attanasio said she is more interested in preventing injury than helping in emergency situations. Just looking at blood gives her goose bumps, she said.

"They fall on their heads, they fall on their backs - I see a lot of chronic pain," she said.

"This is the most extreme sport," she said.

She said it seems that all animals offer the same severity of injury, even though some riders say that horses are easier on the body than bulls.

James Green, a bronco rider, said he has been riding for 20 years on saddled horses, but bareback riding is much rougher. "This is kind of an old folks event," he said.

Attanasio said she treats a lot of neck, back and shoulder injuries.

"You watch how they walk. They all walk sideways," Attanasio said. The riders grip the horse or bull with one hand, and the other flaps with the bucking animal to keep balance, she said. "And they wonder why they can't walk straight."

Kauffmann said it can take up to a year to recover from the kind of injury Rautensterausch received, but it's nothing new to her.

"It comes with the territory," she said.

The Ag Expo will continue through Friday at the Washington County Ag Ed Center on Sharpsburg Pike, 10 miles south of Hagerstown.

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