Large animal emergency training course held in South Okanagan

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ALERT hosts large animal emergency rescue training in South Okanagan
Preparations for wildfires are already underway in the Okanagan and this weekend many people took a course to learn how to help evacuate large animals. Sydney Morton has the story. – Apr 14, 2024

Emergency responders need to be prepared for anything including handling large animals, so, the team behind the Animal Lifeline Emergency Response Team has brought in the experts.

The two-day Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue training course is led by Rebecca Husted, who teaches the course worldwide. The first day of the course is in the classroom. The second day is in the field.

“Yesterday we spent in the classroom looking at pictures looking at scenarios and how we would theoretically like to do things. How do you move the straps, how do you move the ropes, how do you keep people in a safe position and what PPE do we need? Then it starts to make sense to people,” said Husted

More than 80 first responders, A.L.E.R.T. volunteers, veterinarians and specialists attended the course in Oliver, B.C. this weekend to learn about life-saving rescues.

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“Coldstream is a community with a large population of horses and cattle, and as a fire department, we are one of the first people who get called when things happen to go wrong. So any opportunity we have to increase our training, we try to jump on,” said Fiona Morgenthaler-Code,  Coldstream Firehall chief.

Equine veterinarian Dr. Tino Martinez travelled from Victoria, B.C. to attend the course.

“A horse rescue incident is something that we are generally not trained in as equine vets and the firefighters are not experienced in handling horses. So, it puts two different professionals in a situation where they have to handle an often frightened horse,” said Dr. Martinez.

A majority of the participants are A.L.E.R.T. volunteers who say this is exactly the kind of training they need ahead of the next wildfire season.

“A.L.E.R.T.’s main purpose is to be the help that shows up for animals, companion animals and livestock who also have to evacuate because we have some systems in place to evacuate humans but over the years we haven’t had many systems to assist the animals,” said Leann Manuel A.L.E.R.T. Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue team commander.

The two-day session could make a big difference when animals have to be moved out of evacuation and alert zones and make the process easier for both the people and the animals.


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