Equine Ambulance Coming to Midwest Horse Fair

One of only 30 ambulances designed specifically for horses will be on display at the 2009 Midwest Horse Fair in Madison, Wisc., on April 17-19, 2009.

The equine ambulance, purchased by Morrie Waud, has special features to help stabilize an injured patient on its way to a surgical facility.

One of the vehicle's most important features is a hydraulic system designed to lower the ambulance to ground level so an injured horse does not have to climb up or down a ramp.

"It also has a rubber-padded wall that can be adjusted as needed," said Dale Bjorling, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, head of the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine's surgery department. "It can be used to gently squeeze an injured horse to help hold up a horse that is not able to bear weight on a leg."

The equine ambulance will be housed at the Morrie Waud Equine Center, an equine veterinary referral hospital in Delavan, Wisconsin. The ambulance will be available to regional veterinarians on a fee basis in early 2009.

According to Bjorling, the ambulance is ideal to have on call at events, such as Grand Prix, jumping, rodeo, or horseracing, where equine athletes are at risk of injury. It can also be commissioned by field practitioners who would like to transport an injured horse to an equine surgery facility such as the Morrie Waud Equine Center or the UW School of Veterinary Medicine.

"The ambulance has splints on board so the field veterinarian can protect an injured horse's limb in order to safely move it," Bjorling said. "The ambulance will allow us to transport horses safely for further evaluation and treatment."

The custom equine ambulance was manufactured by Kimzey Metal Products in Woodland, Calif. They are the only company in the world that makes these ambulances, and generally don't make more than one a year. They cost about $80,000 each.

"We're very pleased to have the possibility of transporting critically injured animals to a surgical facility," said Michael Livesey, BVM&S, MS, Dipl. ACVS, head of large animal surgery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. "Transportation of this caliber could make a huge difference in the outcome of surgery."

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