EQUINE NEWS

Raising Awareness and Gaining Skills in Technical Large Animal Emergency RescueMay 2017


Story: Jackie Bellamy-Zions

Dr. Rebecca Gimenez“One of a horse owner’s greatest fears is seeing their 1,000 lb plus companion in peril,” says Dr. Rebecca Gimenez, of Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue Inc. (TLAER). “Couple that with not having the ability to do anything about it and not knowing who to call for help and the situation can quickly go wrong with panic stricken judgment calls that may result in a disastrous outcome for the equine.”


Over thirty firefighters and first responders descended upon the Meaford Fire Department Training Centre in Ontario for intensive training on what to do in emergency situations. The three days of rigorous training, presented by Grey Highlands and Meaford Fire Departments and Equine Guelph, took place Apr 28 – 30 2017.


Chief Rod Leeson and Chief Scott Granahan opened with a safety briefing, followed by Dr. Gimenez raising awareness of Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue concepts including how to deal with that panicked owner when arriving upon the scene. Problem solving utilizes the incident command system where cool heads prevail because everyone understands their role. This allows emergency responders, the veterinarian, owner and equipment operators, large animal ambulances etc. on the scene to communicate effectively and work together to find the best possible outcome.


Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue trainingFirst responders received important training in normal animal behaviour and what to expect when that animal becomes stressed, in order to proceed in a manner that keeps everyone safe from harm. Basic handling included how to approach livestock and where the blind zones and kick zones are located. How to create and secure an emergency halter and then restrain & lead the animal to a safe containment situation were more of the topics covered.


Equine Guelph director, Gayle Ecker, delivered a demonstration of great impact where equine anatomy and human anatomy was compared using life size skeletons of both. “Just as you would not pull a child out of a well by the arm; you cannot salvage a horse by wrapping a recovery strap to a limb without resulting in catastrophic damage,” cautioned Ecker. For example, as easily as a human hand can be degloved, a horses tail can be removed if used to pull a horse out of a mud rescue situation. Limbs and tails are not handles!


Graphic and in-depth examples of What NOT to do were shown in case scenarios followed by hands on exercises included working with Rusti, the Rescue Horse mannequin. Gathering the proper equipment, the group practiced proper technique for drags and lifts to extricate a large animal from situations like a mud rescue, trench rescue or trailer roll over.


Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue training“This type of emergency rescue training is essential for first responders, and anyone involved with transporting livestock, to provide them the expertise they need to focus on the welfare and safety of animals and people in these sorts of emergency situations,” says Ontario Veterinary College Dean Jeff Wichtel. “This is just one more example of the University of Guelph commitment to equine health and welfare, and the proactive training Equine Guelph provides to the equine industry, from horse owners to racing track personnel.”



Special thanks to all the suppliers involved: Tractor/Equipment – Earth Power Equipment Meaford, livestock hauler – Aldcorn Brothers Company, Chapman’s Ice Cream, water provided by Ice River Springs and last but not least, Abrams Towing and their recovery operator, John Allen.


Thank you to all the training crew expertly lead by Dr. Gimenez, Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue Inc.:

• Victor MacPherson, Adjala-Tosorontio Fire Department
• Deborah Chute, Adjala-Tosorontio Fire Department
• Chris Watson, Adjala-Tosorontio Fire Department
• Mark Whittick,Adjala-Tosorontio Fire Department
• Wendy McIsaac-Swackhamer, Erin Fire and Emergency Services
• Beverley Sheremeto, Severn Fire & Emergency Services
• Robert Nagle, Central York Fire Services
• Penny Lawlis, consultant for Professional Livestock Auditing Inc.
• Cathy Furness, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
• Katherine Hoffman, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs,
• Gayle Ecker, Equine Guelph, University of Guelph
• Susan, Raymond, Equine Guelph, University of Guelph


“Many commendations were made by the participants to the fire hall and the municipal offices thanking the instructors for coming to our community,” said Chief Scott Granahan, “great things have come from this weekend. Thank you.”


A Final Thank you from Equine Guelph goes out to everyone involved in this important training and the participants dedicated to safe and successful rescues of large animals.


Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government – for the good of the equine industry as a whole.

For further information, visit EquineGuelph.ca.