‘This service needs saving’: owner of mare saved by fire service urges others to sign petition

The owner of a mare who was saved by a fire and rescue service when she was unable to get to her feet has urged others to sign a petition to prevent cuts to the service.

Helen Hanly from Windlesham, Surrey, arrived at her friend Kirsty Hewitt’s yard to find her 25-year-old Arab mare Mikarlla lying down in the field on Tuesday morning (23 April).

Helen told H&H: “I’ve owned Mikarlla since she was seven and in all that time I’ve never seen her lie down – I was shocked. I called over to her and she sat up, but when I got closer she couldn’t get up and I thought ‘something’s not right’.

“I don’t know if she had tried to roll and got stuck in the long grass but she’d been slipping in the dew and dug a hole for herself. She is arthritic in one leg and she must have been down for some time as the skin had been scraped off her back legs.”

Helen and the yard owners were unable to get Mikarlla to her feet so called Scott Dunn’s Equine Clinic vets and Surrey Fire and Rescue Service.

“Mikarlla is a feisty mare and a former endurance horse with lots of stamina, but she was exhausted. At one point she flopped back down with her head in my lap, she looked so vulnerable,” said Helen.

“The fire service were brilliant and said they would send a special unit from Painshill fire station and crews from Camberley and Esher. The vet, Amy McCarthy, arrived to sedate Mikarlla and the fire brigade worked their magic and lifted her using a hoist.

“I was told by the fire service if we had phoned 15 minutes later they wouldn’t have been able to come because of cuts they are making to the fire services’ core hours.”

Helen said the fire service saved Mikarlla’s life.

“She wouldn’t be here without them. They were marvellous – so professional and calm. They made a point of explaining everything they doing and really prepared us. The whole thing was seamless,” she said.

“When they got her up everyone was clapping – it was really emotional. You could see it meant a lot to the crew, it was a really lovely outcome.”

Helen wants others to show support for Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, which is going through a consultation period and could have to make cuts and introduce animal rescue charges as part of the Making Surrey Safer Plan 2020-2023 that aims to set out how the fire service responds to incidents and uses resources. A petition has been started to scrap plans to leave seven major fire appliances un-crewed at night.

“Mikarlla is a bit battered and bruises but she is walking about,” said Helen. “It was a really lovely outcome but it really struck me what if the fire service hadn’t been there – my horse could have been gone.

“I want everyone to be aware that this fire service needs promoting and saving. The equine community is a big community; we’re busy and sometimes think ‘not another petition’ but you just never know when you might need their help. It’s not just equestrians, many of us are drivers – there could be an accident on the motorway which needs specialist lifting equipment. The thought of having less of this service in any shape or form – you might not think you need it until something happens.”

Click here to view the petition

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A spokesman for Surrey Fire and Rescue Service told H&H: “It’s important to recognise we’ve put forward a wide-ranging improvement plan for a service that the inspectorate insists we improve. We are confident our proposals will save lives. What protects people is stopping fires before they start. Fire prevention work saves lives, especially older and disabled people, and that’s why we’re proposing to carry out four times as many fire prevention visits each year.

“Our proposals include substantial investment in training crews, new fire engines and new technology which will speed up response times when the service is busiest.

“The fire and rescue service maintains a response to animal rescue incidents both day and night, throughout the year, and this is supported by both specially trained personnel, specialist assets and partners where required.”

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