The riding season will soon be upon us and with millions of horses throughout the world, it is inevitable that some of them will need to be rescued from ravines, ditches, collapsed barns, overturned trailers, or riding trails. Most people call 911 or the nearest fire department for help, but what if the rescuers have no experience with horses?
Now, for the first time, there is a life-sized horse mannequin designed to teach emergency search and rescue techniques to fire and police departments, SAR units, military, government agencies, humane societies and equine groups.
Lucky, the horse mannequin, was developed by Rescue Critters!, a California-based company with a line of cat and dog mannequins for training purposes. Lucky has articulating limbs, a tail feature as an attachment point, realistic training weight, and a height of 15 hands. It will accept standard horse harnesses, glides and gear. Lucky can be used in all weather, mud, water, and is designed for training indoors or out.
At the forefront on equine rescue techniques is the Equine/Large Animal Rescue unit of the Felton Volunteer Fire Department in Santa Cruz County, CA, headed by Captain John Fox. John and Deb Fox are developing a comprehensive training manual (State Fire Marshal approved course) on the topic of how to rescue large animals using halters, leads, ropes, parts of hose, strapping, webbing, carabiners and pulleys used in rope rescue operations. They also use equipment found on a fire truck, and a rescue glide which resembles the backboard used for humans. An animal can be placed on the glide, then moved into a trailer where it can be transported to a medical facility for treatment.
In Santa Cruz County, one call to 911 alerts the fire department and supportive services such as the local animal control agency and a veterinarian. Mutual aid agreements such as this allow departments which take a special interest in equine rescue to assist untrained departments. The fire department can take control of the situation and acquire resources as necessary in a timely way.
Rescue Critters! animal mannequins have been used throughout the U.S. and in a dozen foreign countries since 1998. For more information, contact company president Craig Jones at 818-780-7860, or visit www.rescuecritters.com