Injuries rise with popularity of e-scooters on Calgary streets

A Calgary couple is telling a cautionary tale about e-scooters that involves an ambulance ride, a broken jaw and surgery.

Rider says he looked back and saw his girlfriend on the ground

A Calgary emergency room doctor says rider injuries led to almost 700 emergency-room and urgent-care visits last summer in Calgary. (CBC)

A Calgary couple is telling a cautionary tale involving an ambulance ride, a broken jaw and surgery.

Paul Fox and his girlfriend rented electric scooters Sunday evening. Both had used the ride-share scooters before, but this time something went wrong.

"We were driving the scooters and then I look back and she is just laying there" Fox told CBC News.

His girlfriend was rushed to hospital and underwent surgery for a broken jaw.

Fox was shocked when the surgeon told him he had seen six of the same kind of injury in recent days.

"It's been the same mechanics of the injury. All jaw injuries … within the last week " Fox said.

The department head for emergency medicine in the city isn't surprised.

Dr. Eddy Lang studied scooter-related injuries last fall after Calgary's first season of the ride-share program.

"We saw almost 700 emergency-room and urgent-care visits of adults and children with scooter-related injuries last year," Lang said.

By comparison, about 2,000 people a year are injured while cycling.

"You also have to keep the denominator in mind, if you will " Lang said. "The number of Calgarians who use bicycles on a regular basis probably far exceeds the number of scooter users."

Injuries to head, neck and face most common

Lang says the most common injuries were head, neck and face.

"Last year, we studied this in detail and looked at about 30 cases that were transported to hospital by ambulance. The common denominator was speed."

Lang says the scooters are a great way to see the city or commute quickly to work, but points out they are a motorized vehicle and should be treated as such. He recommends helmet use, staying away from large crowds and riding sober.

With a third company joining the program this year, there are now about 2,500 scooters on the streets.

A second injury study is coming in the fall.