Final year veterinary students undertaking equine elective options at the University’s Philip Leverhulme Equine Hospital recently underwent large animal rescue training in conjunction with the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. This training day, which is run annually, enables final year veterinary students to be familiarised with the hazards associated with equine rescue situations and to be trained to work effectively alongside other emergency services such as the Fire and Rescue Service.
Veterinary surgeons are frequently asked to attend animal rescue situations. It is essential that they are trained not only to ensure the safety and welfare of animal(s) involved, but to also to consider the safety of themselves, other rescuers and members of the general public. Due to the fact that owners and bystanders may risk their lives to rescue a trapped animal, the Fire and Rescue Service are frequently involved. Their role is to protect human life but also to work with veterinary surgeons in removing trapped animals to a place of safety where further veterinary treatment can be performed.
The day comprised of lectures given by staff from the Philip Leverhulme Equine Hospital and Adrian Knight, Crew Manager for the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Animal Rescue Team. These lectures covered sedation, anaesthesia, initial treatment of equine casualties, human safety and large animal rescue strategies. After discussing some real-life casualty scenarios, the students had a chance to put their practical skills to the test dealing with large animal rescues from the fire and rescue service perspective. This involved manoeuvring a life-size horse mannequin stuck in a ditch (the attractive Ha-ha in front of Leahurst house!) and gave them a chance not only to practice various technical rescue procedures, but also to test their team working skills. At 250kg, while the mannequin is not quite the weight of a real horse (around 450kg) and didn’t attempt to kick them, it gave the students a chance to test their muscle strength too!
The Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Animal Rescue team are world leaders in animal rescue, led by Jim Green. Jim, and Professor Josh Slater (Royal Veterinary College) have recently set up the British Animal Rescue and Trauma Care Association. Professor Debra Archer, Head of Equine Surgery at the University of Liverpool , who led this years training day, has also been involved in the setting up of advanced theoretical and case-based training for BARTA enabling veterinary surgeons in the UK and internationally to undergo more in-depth training on large animal rescue and emergency treatment.