February Newsletter

Large Animal Emergency and Rescue

by Catherine Hall DVM

In December I attended the Techniques in Large Animal Emergency and Rescue course taught by Drs. Rebecca and Tomas Gimenez.  I have always had an interest in being able to help out in other ways than just my day to day veterinary work.  The course was held in Gray, GA and sponsored by the Gray Fire Department.  Many great ideas, techniques and realizations were learned during this 3 days course.

We began with basic techniques such as how to safely be around horses.  The people in the class varied in experience with horses/large animals from no experience to lots of experience.  The great thing about this course is that they have trained their own horses to be the “victims” which allowed the techniques to be used on live animals versus mannequins.  We were taught multiple techniques such as placing webbing onto horses in order to assist horses in a standing or down position using:  forward assists, forward drags, hind drags and side drags.  Various scenarios were performed including: safe way of dealing with horses stuck on trailers, overturned trailers, rescues involving vertical lifts, night rescues and barn fires.  These were just some of many topics which were discussed.

So, of all this information I tried to learn and retain in what ended up being a short 3 days.  What can I pass on to help you be better prepared for an emergency situation?  One can never be too prepared, and most of us, including myself, are never prepared enough.  

Many of you trailer your horses, but are you prepared if you have an emergency during one of these trips?  An emergency can be as small as a flat tire to something as major as a traffic accident.  A few things you should be prepared with:
  • Information sheet about you, your horse, emergency contacts and phone numbers  One in your towing vehicle and trailer
  • Laminated so that it’s still viable if there is water damage
  • Veterinarian information
  • Contact information of a close friend who you’ve discussed this with and is a knowledgeable horse person also
  • Appropriate spare tires for truck and trailer
  • Make sure they are in good condition and ready to use
  • Jacks for use with the towing vehicle and trailer
  • Small first aid kit
  • Extra halter and lead
  • Working knowledge of your towing vehicle and trailer
These are just a few safety things touched on.  U.S. Rider, which is an equine specific roadside assistant service, has many good articles and downloadable forms which you can print off and have in your vehicles and trailers.  Their website is www.usrider.org.

Another topic we simulated was a barn fire.  Videos were shown of how quickly a barn can burn.  It only takes a few minutes before it can become unsafe to enter into a barn.  Usually by the time a person sees smoke coming out of the barn, time is up.  This one really hit close to home, as it is amazing how one can lose their orientation when the barn is full of smoke.  A local barn was used and a smoke machine simulated a fire.  The fire fighters who were part of the course were there in full gear-which is a sight for people and horses if you have never experienced that.  Prevention is one of the biggest keys in fire safety.  Some basics for prevention:
  • Have a no smoking policy
  • Remove cobwebs
  • Separate hay and flammables from the barn (in a separate building)
  • Leave halters and lead ropes available at the stalls
  • Smoke detectors - these can be linked to a system to call emergency responders
  • Having a sprinkler system in place
  • Fire extinguishers mounted and WELL labeled
Problems which may be encountered during a fire which we don’t think about during our daily routine:
  • Obstacles in the barn isle - many of us place objects just outside of the stall for our ease, but when visibility is limited, they become very dangerous for emergency responders
  • Inappropriate fans, heater and various electrical devices which can cause sparks setting off shavings and hay
  • Not having detectors installed - these can be purchased at most hardware stores
Things to think about if there is an emergency:
  • Having a central isle which horses can be let into and herded out of the barn
  • Practice this technique prior to the time of need
  • Be sure to close the doors behind the horses as they are likely to try and go back to familiar places.
  • Have a pasture or at least paddock which horses go out into in case of emergency
  • This keeps them confined and safe once outside.
  • If your horses are stalled, keep leather or break away halters on them while in the stall
  • Practice having strangers get your horse out of its stall
  • Especially if you can dress them in big attire which is not something they are used to seeing.
This is just a step into the start of different equine emergencies which may occur.  There are many different scenarios out there.  Put those thinking caps on and make sure you and your horses are prepared for possible emergencies.  Remember, preparation is the key!

Facebook Update
Our Facebook page is up and going strong but not without some difficulties. Little did we know that there were some imposter pages out there! We have been working with the Facebook system to eliminate some of the false pages. When you are searching for our page our profile picture is the clinic building. You can go directly to the page by clicking here.
Congratulations to the winners of our page launch contest who earned a free Coggins test for being one of the first 10 people to Like our page.
February is Dental Health Month so to celebrate we are offering our Facebook fans a 10% discount off all dental services during the month of February. All you have to do is click the Like button on our page.

Now Hiring!
CGES is now accepting applications for part-time positions on our barn crew and full time positions for veterinary technician and veterinary assistant. You can read more about these positions on our Facebook page.

Mature adult rider has lost her beloved TWH mare, I am looking for a smooth riding gelding. Horse must be well trained and trail worthy.
 Contact aimee11@windstream.net

Whew! That's a lot of information for one month, thanks for reading!