Kentucky Rescue Course Has Audit Positions Open

Two three-day courses designed to instruct first responders, veterinarians, and horse owners on the art of hands-on rescue and transport of a recumbent horse, containment of large animals, mud and water rescues, and night search and rescue will be held Aug. 20-22 and Aug. 24-26 at the Kentucky Horse Park. There are some audit openings left at a cost of $175; the hands-on sections are full.

Nathan Slovis, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, from the veterinary firm of Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, with the husband-wife team of Tomas Gimenez, Dr.Med.Vet., and Rebecca Gimenez, PhD, will instruct. Tomas is a professor of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at Clemson University, and Rebecca is an animal physiologist and a primary instructor in technical large-animal emergency rescue.

Slovis said the ice storm that paralyzed Central Kentucky several years ago spawned his interest in technical large animal rescue when  there was an old horse that got down and couldn't get up, and no one knew how to help. "Clients and vets do the craziest things" in trying to help horses, he noted. Slovis added that many times, there are neurologic and down horses, colics, and horses with head injuries that could be saved if they could be safely moved to the Hagyard clinic for intensive care.

In wanting to do something for these types of horses, and in order to help during emergencies in Fayette and surrounding counties where the veterinary firm's clients are based, they decided to develop a course with the Gimenezes to train first responders, mostly fire department personnel, on what to do in emergencies that involve horses and other large animals. Since starting the annual training in 2003, 100 lay persons and 100 fire department personnel from all over the United States have undergone training. Most firefighters who take the training have never been around horses.

"Our goal is to have someone on each shift at the fire house be trained, and hope they share that training with their fellow emergency responders," said Slovis. He hopes to get close to that goal this year for the counties in Central Kentucky.

Because of the demand not just from Central Kentucky, but from across the United States, the seminar began being held twice in the same week three years ago.  Slovis said he "felt bad because we had to turn people down."

Animals trained to lay down and be involved in various rescues (mud, water, hanging from slings, etc.) are used during the demonstrations to give responders safe, hands-on training in actually working with live animals.

The results have been tremendous, as stories from rescuers from across the state and the country roll in on how they put this training to use saving horses. Horses have been safely extracted from sink holes, horses and cows have been recovered from deep mud, and horses have been safely removed from accidents involving horse trailers large and small.

"We can only act in surrounding counties," said Slovis, "but we can help others through these courses."

Hagyard is equipped with an ambulance that can transport downed horses for Hagyard's clients and for animals in Fayette and the surrounding counties of Scott, Bourbon, and Woodford.

Following is the Large Animal Emergency Rescue Course Outline (subject to change):

First Day

Morning classroom session 8:00-12:00
Review of the senses of the horse under stress
Behavioral characteristics of other large animals in stressful environments
Cattle, swine, llama, ostrich, emu
Approach and equipment for restraint and/or containment.
The Incident Command System, purpose and structure in large animal rescue.
Position, timing, communication
The horse owner
The large animal veterinarian
Use of sedatives/tranquilizers in rescue
Chemical restraint/capture

Afternoon Session 1:00-4:00
Basics of rescue ropes and knots in large animal rescue
Containment of large animals
Emergency rope halter
Approach and restraint.
Forward assist
Backwards drag
Placement of leg ropes/hobbles
Cast animals

Second Day

Morning classroom session 8:00-12:00
The law enforcement officer
Legal aspects
Humane destruction
Trailers, types, configurations and construction.
Trailer accidents and rescue
Rescue from horse barn fires

Afternoon Session 1:00-3:00
Rope systems Z-Rig, 9:1)
Do’s and dont’s of winches
Trailer Uprighting
Vertical lift (non-helicopter)
Mud rescue
Night Search and Rescue Operation 2-3 hours starting after sunset

Third Day

Morning classroom session 8:00-12:00
Use of helicopters in large animal rescue
Large animal water rescue/ Equine Flotation Device
Presentation of actual incidents with class participation.

Afternoon Session 1:00-3:00
Recumbent horse and rescue glide
Water rescue
Airlift rescue

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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