Eastern Kentucky University’s Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue Training course (TLAER) was held March 30-April 1, 2012 at the university’s Richmond, KY campus. The exceptional schooling opportunity, co-sponsored by Eastern Kentucky University and nationwide roadside-assistance company USRider, brought back TLAER innovators Drs. Rebecca and Tomas Gimenez, who have spent 15 years designing the 30 hours of classroom instruction and hands-on training that aims to teach firefighters and emergency responders the safest and most efficient techniques to save oversized animals in catastrophic situations. “What we’re trying to change, what we want people realize, is that there is a safe way to do this both for the victim and the rescuer,” said Tomas. According to Rebecca, the course also aims to “show students that you can do many of these techniques with very simple stuff,” such as basic items found on most fire trucks like webbing, straps, hoses, and ropes.
“In many accidents, horses and large animals are often injured further or even killed by use of incorrect rescue techniques,” noted USRider General Manager Bill Riss, stressing the importance of the training.
The Gimenez’s course differs from other large-animal rescue training in its use of live victims in the hands-on lessons. Torque, an Appaloosa gelding and Ariel, a paint mare, are 9-year-old rescue horses trained to lie down on cue and to be dragged and lifted to safety on a regular basis. “This is a tremendous class,” said student Gary Larson, who works with the Sheriff’s posse in his small county in Minnesota. “To work with the live animals as opposed to dummies makes all the difference. I’ve raised five kids through horse shows and hobby riding,” Larson added, “and there’s hardly an example that [they ‘ve used here] that I haven’t encountered.” Larson was also gathering nearly 500 photos during the course for other members of the Sheriff’s posse to access for reference.
The course teaches students basic backward and forward drags, the use of sedation in rescues, and more intricate water and mud extractions. On Saturday, March 31, the students took part in one of the most difficult and dramatic rescue effort: A vertical lift of a horse from a recessed area.