The Mesa Fire Department responded to a horse and buggy that ended up in the Mesa Canal recently. The buggy did not pin the horse under water and the canals construction was such that the horse was not in danger of being stuck in the mud, as it may in a riverbank, for example. The horse was not in any real danger, and rescuers were able to separate the horse from the buggy and walk it to an area where it was able to exit the canal. Fortunately, the circumstances surrounding this incident did not require technical rescue tactics, but what about large animal rescue incidents that do?
Rescue situations involving large animals can present a unique set of tactical challenges, not to mention an elevated level of risk to rescue personnel. Traditional equipment utilized for the rescue of human patients is tested and rated to provide a safety factor as it relates to working loads and breaking strengths. Take for example the general use load, a general use load of 600lbs for use in life safety situations, approximately the weight of 2 individuals plus gear, has a safety factor 15:1, or 9000 lbs. This may be adequate when dealing with human patients/loads, but what about heavier loads? Technical rescue involving large animals can involve working loads in the thousands of pounds. What safety concerns does this situation pose to rescue personnel? What effect will it have on the equipment being utilized? These are just some of the questions being looked at by the Technical Committee on Technical Search and Rescue during the current revision of NFPA 1670, Standard on Operations and Training for Technical Search and Rescue Incidents.
During the First Draft Meeting for NFPA 1670, the Technical Committee began work on a chapter that details requirements for agencies that provide Animal Technical Rescue. The committee will be meeting again in February 2013 to finalize these requirements for the 2014 edition of NFPA 1670. For more information on NFPA 1670, the First Draft Report, and the Second Draft Meeting, visit the NFPA 1670 Document Information page and check out the committees work.