Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service now has a team specialising in large animal rescues, and it's rescued four horses in the first week of operation.
As part of Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service's (GFRS) Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP), they have recently invested in large animal rescue equipment and instructors to ensure that firefighters have the best skills available to protect themselves when handling large animals.
Gloucestershire is a very rural county and over the past year, GFRS has rescued 40 large animals, the most common being horses, cattle, pigs and sheep who often find themselves trapped in machinery, bogs, rivers, pools and ditches or victims of road traffic collisions.
In the first week of operation alone, using new techniques and equipment, the fire service rescued a horse trapped in a six foot deep drainage ditch near Wotton Under Edge and three horses involved in an incident in Cirencester where one of the horses became trapped falling through the floor of its horsebox.
The team of firefighters and the specialist equipment are based at Gloucester North community fire station, and is sent out immediately to support the first attending local crew when an animal rescue call comes through.
Steve Bateman, animal rescue specialist at GFRS, said: "These were our first real rescues using new equipment and it was a good opportunity to put all of the training into practice.
"At both incidents local vets were on scene to help sedate the animals to allow our crews to work more safely.
"Without their assistance it is very dangerous for crews to attempt the rescue of an animal of this size and power.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Geoff Sallis, said: "The majority of our large animal rescues used to be carried out with rope loops, fire hose and crew power, which did not offer protection for our firefighters.
"Thanks to this new equipment and in-house instructors, firefighters at our Gloucester North Station and across the county have been specially trained to carry out large animal rescues making the rescue easier for the animal and safer for the crews involved.
Councillor Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for communities, said: "I am pleased that our fire fighters are getting the training they need to rescue large animals, and they've now had the opportunity to use that equipment and training.
"The whole point of the IRMP was that we needed to make some operational changes to our already excellent fire service, making it more responsive and efficient. It's great to see it making a positive impact so quickly.
Notes to news editors:
Photos of both horse rescues are available on request.
Wotton Under Edge Rescue: Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue were called to Swinhay Lane by a concerned horse owner stating their horse had lost their footing and was trapped in a 6ft deep drainage ditch.
The Control room mobilised the local Wotton Under Edge Fire Crew along with the specialist large animal rescue crews based at Cheltenham Road East Station. The owner had already contacted their vet to assist in keeping the horse calm and treat any possible injuries.
The crews were able to release the horse uninjured within 1 hour.
Cirencester Rescue: At 15:18hrs on Thursday 5th July 2012 firefighters were called to a horse that had gone through the floor of it's horsebox whilst in transit.
A fire crew from Cirencester led by Watch Commander Paul O'Leary along with specialist crews from Gloucester North fire station attended. Station Commander David Lane was the incident commander.
Three horses were involved in the incident, two were uninjured and released by the fire service, the third horse was injured and released by the fire service. Fire crews were assisted with guidance from two Veterinary surgeons who attended to sedate the animals so that a safe rescue could take place. All of the horses were removed to a nearby paddock so that they could be further assessed.
Crews were on scene for a total of 90 minutes.
The Fire Service's Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) 2012-2015 was approved at a full county council meeting in February following consultation with local residents.
Issued by: Hayley Vining, Gloucestershire County Council Media Team, 01452 425226, email@example.com
6th July 2012