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Large Animal Emergency Rescue Awareness course trains responders

1/4/2010 12:00 AM

Rescuing a large animal, such as a horse, following an accident or a disaster can be challenging to emergency responders, who may not be trained to handle this type of incident. That's why TEEX recently helped to conduct a two-day course on Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (TLAER) Awareness in Navasota, said TEEX Adjunct Instructor Dr. Ernest Reesing, who is both a veterinarian and a firefighter.

The course teaches the incident command system (ICS) as well as the basic concepts required for safe and effective technical rescue of injured or entrapped livestock, said Reesing, who is an instructor with TEEX's Emergency Services Training Institute's Extension Program. Among the topics covered were handling and restraint, leading and loading, as well as the use of rope systems, slings and vertical lift systems. The class also included hands-on demonstrations with trained livestock.

Reesing called the demonstrations "very informative." Reesing and TEEX instructor Alan Dillon assisted guest instructor Dr. Rebecca Gimenez, president of TLAER.org from Martinez, GA, and Dr. Benjamin Buchanan with Brazos Valley Equine Hospital, who hosted the class. Reesing said he has attended some workshops on large animal rescue around the state, but none that included the hands-on practice.

"In this course, participants got to practice using slings to lift horses and other rescue techniques," he said.

The nearly 60 attendees were a diverse group, he said, coming not only from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, but also from Large Animal Control with the Harris County Sheriff's Department, Department of State Health Services, Texas Animal Health Commission, city and county animal control officers, firefighters and one participant from Puerto Rico.

"A lot of agencies deal with this," Reesing said. And disaster response often involves the rescue of livestock and even exotic or zoo animals, he added. The course brings together the latest concepts, techniques, procedures and rescue equipment.

"All sorts of things occur and vets, animal techs, animal control officers and firefighters are the first to respond," he said.

This specialty form of rescue is not related to rescue of abused or neglected animals, he added. The goal of TLAER is to improve the standard of care for large animal victims while improving the safety margin for well-meaning emergency responders. It emphasizes prioritization of rescue methods and the use of simple techniques where possible, and the training underscores the Fire Service's Incident Command System.

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Kathy Fraser

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