April 7, 2008–Emergency personnel often interact with horses for the first time when they are called to the scene of a trailer collision, barn fire or other crisis situation. To better prepare these first responders on how to handle nervous and upset horses, Virginia Tech’s Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center and the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center are putting together a program that they hope saves equine lives
Brown and Porr guided attendees through a verbal analysis of various critical scenarios involving horses. Participants also caught and released horses in stalls and paddocks, tied horses using quick-release knots, and lead horses to safe zones.
“We’ve found that emergency personnel often have no experience in rescuing horses,” Brown says. “Trailer accidents and barn fires can be frightening and chaotic situations but training can provide the knowledge needed to properly manage these incidents.”
According to Porr, the program is being established to fulfill a need in Virginia’s equine-dense counties of Loudoun, Prince William, Fauquier, Clarke, Warren, Rappahannock, Culpeper, and Stafford. The course, which was also offered on two occasions earlier in the year, has been completed by more than 66 emergency responders.
“The result is that we now have many local first responders who are better able to handle horses in critical situations,” Porr says. “With the large number of horses in Northern Virginia, this training should be of great benefit to the area’s equine community.”