Endowed Fund Established to Promote Large Animal Rescue Efforts, Launch Training Program

USRider Equestrian Motor Plan has established an endowed fund at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) to promote large-animal rescue efforts and support related training programs.

The $25,000 gift/pledge, which will be matched through the Commonwealth's "Bucks for Brains" Program for a total of $50,000, will enable EKU's Fire and Safety Engineering (FSE) Technology Program to prepare its students to handle incidents involving the rescue of large animals, particularly horses.

An important product created by the endowment fund is large-animal rescue training. Two initial training seminars will be held in March 2005.

Scheduled for March 18-20, 2005, the first Technical Large Animal Rescue session will be reserved for EKU students.  The second session, March 22-24, 2005, is open to the public, with emphasis on recruiting fire and EMT responders, veterinarians and others.

This training was designed to educate fire/rescue personnel, first responders, veterinarians, and horse enthusiasts about techniques and procedures to assist large animals involved in transportation accidents and other emergencies.

Taught by Drs. Tomas and Rebecca Gimenez, experts in large-animal rescue, each session will include 30 hours of classroom instruction and hands-on training with live trained animals, including horses and a llama.

Instruction will cover the use of sedatives and tranquilizers, chemical restraint, rescue ropes and knots, rescue from horse barn fires, mud rescue, helicopter rescue and water rescue, among other situations. Each session also will include a nighttime search and rescue exercise.

For more information on these seminars, contact the EKU Loss Prevention and Safety Department at 859/622-1009.

"USRider adopted Large Animal Rescue as our philanthropy when our organization was established in January 2002," said Mark Cole, managing member of the USRider Equestrian Motor Plan. "At that time, the issue was barely on the radar screen.

"What we initially found was that emergency responders, while trained experts in human rescue and extrication, had no training in large-animal rescue. Because of this lack of training, these responders were being put at great risk. Moreover, in many accidents and disasters, animals without life-threatening injuries were being injured further or even killed by use of incorrect rescue techniques."

Working with the Gimenezes, USRider developed an awareness video and distributed it to veterinarians, EMTs, firefighters, horse associations, law enforcement officers and horse enthusiasts. In addition, the organization has funded several demonstration and training initiatives focused on responders already in the field.

Cole said the partnership with EKU "takes us in an exciting new direction. (Now) we have an opportunity to introduce students who will leave Eastern and fan out across the country in leadership roles as firefighters, EMTs and other safety-related professionals."

The training covers all aspects of large-animal rescue, including natural disasters such as floods, tornadoes, avalanches, earthquakes and highway mishaps, such as overturned trailers. The techniques taught can be applied to all large animals, Cole said, even elephants.

"Better knowledge of proper techniques will enable responders to stabilize, package and transport the animal without further injury," said Dr. Larry Collins, chair of EKU's Department of Loss Prevention and Safety. "Our FSE graduates will take those new skills and knowledge back to the areas where they will teach additional personnel. This maximizes the time and money spent and enables more responders to be trained sooner."

Cole said USRider selected EKU "for its reputation, its safety course offerings and location.

"We are extremely excited that EKU is located in central Kentucky, an area that is commonly referred to as the horse capital of the world," Cole said. "We are also thrilled that EK's Fire and Safety Engineering Technology Program is one of the few of its kind in the United States."

Contributions to the fund may be sent to the Division of University Development, CPO 19A, Jones 324, Eastern Kentucky University, 521 Lancaster Ave., Richmond, Ky., 40475-3102. The Development office may be reached at 859-622-1583.

The Large Animal Rescue Awareness Video is still free upon request. To receive a copy, send a written request on letterhead to: Large Animal Rescue Video, USRider Equestrian Motor Plan, PO Box 54711, Lexington, Ky., 40555. The request should indicate when the video will be viewed and the approximate number of people who will view it.

USRider Equestrian Motor Plan is a nationwide member-based organization providing roadside trailering assistance, including towing and roadside repairs for tow vehicles and trailers with horses, emergency stabling, veterinary referrals and more. For more information, visit www.usrider.org or call 800/844-1409.

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