Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service will soon be taking to the roads in their new specialist animal rescue vehicle — the first of its kind to be used in the UK.
The 4×4 vehicle is fitted with equipment specially developed for large animal rescues and is capable of carrying six crew members across all terrains, in all weathers.
“It’s like a Tesco van on steroids,” said watch manager Jim Green, who has trained 27 fire and rescue services in animal rescue techniques, as well as vets.
“We needed a bigger vehicle that can get to any scene, be it a watercourse or muddy pit, where an animal is trapped.”
The Hampshire animal rescue team responds to 350 calls per year and on average attends the scene of 80 large animal rescues, often in the New Forest area.
“When extricating an animal we prefer to do so manually, using a skidding technique, rather than heavy lifting equipment as this reduces the requirement for drugs and allows us to react to problems faster,” Mr Green said.
“The new vehicle does not have a crane as in 90% of cases we don’t need one and we wanted to keep costs down.”
The £75,000 Iveco Daily vehicle, which will come into operation on 1 December, was paid for with funding from the Petplan Charitable Trust.
“I am delighted that in a small way the Petplan Charitable Trust has been able to help,” said the trust’s founder, David Simpson.
“Our grant was initially given to help with the development of key pieces of rescue equipment, so the funding of the animal rescue tender was a natural extension of that grant.”
The Hampshire animal rescue vehicle will be available to respond to calls throughout Hampshire and across its borders.
Other fire and rescue services across the UK, including Devon, are considering investing in specialist animal rescue vehicles.