Around 40 large animals including horses, cattle and deer, are rescued by Staffordshire Fire and Rescue’s specially-trained firefighters every year.
“Staffordshire is predominantly a rural community and large animal rescue is recognised as one of the most dangerous activities a firefighter will be engaged in. It is essential, therefore, to ensure firefighters have specialist training and equipment..." Tim Collis, Animal Rescue Instructor.
The Service is called out when animals get trapped in machinery, bogs, slurry pits, and pools or following road incidents.
The Service’s Animal Rescue Teams are based at Cannock and Leek fire stations and continually develop the skills required for the safe rescue of animals which are often in distress.
The Service has just launched a new training ground on Forestry Commission land on Cannock Chase to enable Animal Rescue Teams to carry out realistic scenarios and hone rescue techniques using a life-sized articulated horse mannequin.
Animal Rescue Instructor Tim Collis, said: “Staffordshire is predominantly a rural community and large animal rescue is recognised as one of the most dangerous activities a firefighter will be engaged in. It is essential, therefore, to ensure firefighters have specialist training and equipment so as to protect them and the animal, as well as members of the public who may be at risk of injury.
“Firefighters regularly use their skills to deal with a range of different rescues involving pets, livestock and wild animals. The larger species more commonly rescued are horses, cattle, pigs, sheep and deer that get trapped in machinery, bogs, slurry pits, rivers, pools and ditches or by road incidents.”
Tim has been at the forefront of developing Staffordshire’s animal rescue service. In the past firefighters relied on their ingenuity to carry out rescues but since 2010 the Service has been actively involved in developing teams with specialist skills.
Animal Rescue Team members attend Reaseheath Agricultural College at Nantwich to learn about animal psychology, how to handle different species and how to react to an animal in distress. They then attend an Animal Rescue (AR2) techniques course led by the Service’s own Animal Rescue Instructors. Instructors undergo further specialised training (AR3) and the Service now has nine instructors.
“The development of large animal rescue within Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is ongoing,” added Tim. “The new facility on Cannock Chase has been developed in partnership with the Forestry Commission and enables our teams at Cannock to maintain competency and skills so that we are appropriately prepared to respond to animal rescues in the future.”
The training site provides various training scenarios including holes, ditches and a horsebox for use with the Service’s horse mannequin.