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Vets and fire crews work to make horse rescues safer

Vets and fire crews in the south-east held a “local rescue meeting” on Tuesday (7 July) as part of a continuing drive to make horse rescues safer and more efficient.

The meeting at Crowborough fire station in East Sussex is one of a number planned this year by the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) and the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA).

“Most vets only get to meet animal rescue teams in the panic of a rescue, which is not the ideal first point of contact,” said former BEVA president Josh Slater.

BEVA vet Ben Mayes hosted the meeting, which was attended by vets from 16 practices as well as the East Sussex animal rescue team.

“I highlighted the importance of having a vet present, of sedation and anaesthesia for the welfare of the horse and the safety of everyone involved in a rescue,” he said. “Fire crews can ask ‘why do we need a vet?’ and it’s to keep them safe.”

Mr Slater added: “Vets, similarly, have no idea what to expect at a rescue scene and how the fire crew can make order out of chaos.”

The meeting is the second of a series planned this year. The first was in Bath in January, another will be held in Kent this month and a fourth is set for Wiltshire this September.

Nicko Robertson, a vet from Stables Equine in Shepton Mallett, attended the Bath meeting with representatives of the Avon Fire and Rescue Service.

He said: “It was very useful, but we still have a way to go. I think everyone involved in horse welfare should meet regularly — the local councils, police, fire service, vets and the RSPCA.”

He said that in Avon they hoped to add to the relationship with follow-up meetings.

The initiative builds on the “emergency services protocol” launched in May 2007 by BEVA and the British Horse Society (BHS), after H&H reported a worrying variation in the way police and firemen handle 999 calls involving equines.

The protocol is soon to be relaunched and we would like to hear if your horse has been involved in an emergency where fire crew and/or police attended.

Please email abi_butcher@ipcmedia.com

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (9 July, ’09)

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