Fire-EMS crews participate in large animal rescue training in Botetourt County

Published: Apr. 11, 2021 at 7:07 PM EDT
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BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - Fire-EMS departments from across Southwest Virginia joined forces over the weekend to do a unique kind of three-day-long training. It’s called large animal rescue training and it happens only once every three or four years.

Fire-EMS crew members said they rescue large animals roughly four to five times a year, so a special training like this one is something they couldn’t miss.

“A lot of this you unfortunately have to learn by just running the calls, so when something like this is open to the opportunity and allows us to do it in a safe environment ... was a great opportunity, so for me that’s why I took the class,” Jonathan Simmons, a lieutenant with the Troutville Volunteer Fire Department, said.

Simmons gave up his weekend to participate in the large animal rescue training with other Fire-EMS members near the Botetourt Golf and Swim Club.

“It is tactics, strategies and considerations for how to get large animals, horses, cows, donkeys, things like that, out of predicaments,” he said.

Fire-EMS members spent Friday and Saturday learning in a classroom and then Sunday, they tested their knowledge out in the field with mannequin horses. In one scenario, they had to rescue the mannequins from the mud, and then from the water in another scenario.

“The training here just allows us to verify the things we were doing were right, and obviously taught us a lot of new techniques, as well as allowed us to demo some new equipment that we had never seen before,” Simmons said.

“[Rescuing large animals is] certainly something that we don’t do a lot of, but when its called for, it’s very dangerous, and we want to perform excellence, so it’s important to get the training we need to do it safely,” said Jeff Powell, deputy chief of Botetourt County Fire-EMS.

The fire officials said putting on a training event like this isn’t easy - it takes a lot of preparation and coordination.

“The partners that we have here, the different companies that’s providing the training and the departments have been huge, we have a lot of local people, Rescue Systems Incorporated, Spec Rescue, 4Hooves Large Animal Services,” Simmons explained.

The volunteers said they’re looking forward to taking their new skills into the real world.

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