UK’s first horse-powered ambulance service comes to the rescue

  • Cheaper than a helicopter, better traction than a car — a horse is being used to get a first-aider to emergencies in a Staffordshire park.

    Cannock Chase — a 3,000 acre country park just north of Wolverhampton — has introduced the country’s first horse-powered ambulance service thanks to volunteer Mark Bennett.

    His Irish sports horse, Chase, is able to reach areas of the park that are inaccessible for vehicles and difficult for paramedics to get to.

    His rider, Mark Bennett, will then be able to provide emergency first-aid in the first crucial minutes, before the paramedics take over.

    Mr Bennett lives in the park at his partner’s trekking centre and is a trauma instructor for West Midlands Fire Service and a volunteer community first responder for the West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS).

    “Mark assisted with a couple of incidents while riding in the park and realised he could arrive at the scene of an accident faster than the paramedics,” a spokesperson for WMAS said.

    “He proposed the idea of a ridden first response and volunteered to get involved.”

    Mr Bennett, who has been riding for 12 years, often accompanies the horse trekking trips around the park and knows it inside out.

    He has kitted out his horse with a defibrillator and responder bag, in case of emergency.

    “Being able to respond on horseback means that I can quickly access patients in difficult, hard to reach locations, prior to the arrival of the ambulance service,” Mr Bennett said.

    When Chase is unavailable, Mr Bennett has an all-terrain motorbike that he can rely upon instead.

    Duncan Parsonage, WMAS community response manager for south Staffordshire said:

    “With many illnesses or injuries the first few minutes are critical. Mark could potentially advise ambulance crews – who will often have to go on foot – on the quickest routes to take to reach incidents.”

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