Students Participate in Large Animal Rescue Demonstration

Earlier this spring, a group of third graders in Richmond, Ky., got a hands-on lesson in rescuing large animals.

On March 30, Tomas Gimenez, DrMedVet, and Rebecca Gimenez, PhD, gave a Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue presentation to Mrs. Green's third grade class at Model School in Richmond, Ky.

In town to conduct the fifth annual Large Animal Emergency Rescue Training for Eastern Kentucky University's College of Justice and Safety, the Gimenezes took some time to visit the class.

The rescue teachers brought a variety of hands-on demonstration equipment to allow the students to understand the physical challenges of assisting a 1,200-pound animal that might be stuck in deep, sucking mud, or in an overturned horse trailer on the interstate. The equipment was simple--pieces of 4" sewn webbing that could be used to manipulate the victim, canes and boathooks as extensions of their arms to minimize injuries, helmets to protect their heads, and knowledge of horse behavior.

The discussion started with a demonstration of the great weight of a horse. The students estimated their average weight as 50 pounds each. The discussion leaders explained that all 24 students barely added up to the weight of just one average horse. This revelation prompted many questions and answers about safe areas around animals and the special weapons, such as teeth and hooves, that animals can use when they are scared or hurt. The students learned about the fight or flight reflexes of large animals and how their fear reactions as prey animals may hamper the good intentions of rescuers.

Soon, small groups of students were learning to use the canes and webbing to manipulate the body of a large stuffed toy horse named "Tornado" on the floor of the classroom. From a safe position, they chose not to put a rope around his neck, head, or legs for fear of injuring those delicate structures. Instead they used webbing around his chest, pelvis or abdomen to create a forward assist, backwards, or sideways drag to safe ground. In one case, they even demonstrated the use of a special piece of equipment to push a piece of webbing around the body of the horse stuck into the mud.

The students found they were able to easily pull their "victim" out of the rescue environment, even with the weight of a full-grown adult sitting on "Tornado" to simulate how heavy large animals can be.

Program sponsor USRider offers a nationwide roadside assistance program designed especially for equestrians. Since its establishment in January 2002, the company has endeavored to raise awareness of the need for training in large animal emergency rescue. In 2005, the company took its efforts in a new direction by creating the first-of-its-kind Large Animal Rescue Endowment Fund at Eastern Kentucky University. The endowment fund was established to promote large animal rescue training efforts and support related training programs. To facilitate the training, organizers bring subject-matter experts, as well as specially trained demonstration animals, to help provide realistic hands-on training to EKU students during the training sessions.

Contributions to the Large Animal Rescue Endowment Fund can 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 can be reached at 859/622-1583.

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