Thursday, June 14, 2012

TLAER practices getting horses from mud pits.

Training part of unique team.

Courtesy Jonathan Copsey; The Milton Herald / Appen Newspapers

MILTON, Ga. - In late May, the Milton Fire Department's Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (TLAER) unit trained for mud entrapment scenarios over four days.

Firefighters used "Randy," the 400-pound horse mannequin, to train for situations in which large livestock can become entrapped in deep mud.

"A horse or any large animal can fall into a sink hole or a mud hole," explained Bill Bourn, TLAER coordinator for Milton. "We've had a couple rescues like that already, but training gets everybody familiarized with how to do it."
It's not as simple as just pulling the animal out, Borne said. The mud creates suction around the horse, dragging it down, similar to how you can lose a boot in the mud. With a horse, it can be even more dangerous. Bourn said horses have lost whole hooves due to suction.

"We needed to break the suction," he said.

To do that, the team stuck special pipes into the mud and used a fire engine to pump water in through those pipes. The water displaces the suction and allows the horse to get out.

Then it's just a matter of lifting the animal out of the hole.

"This is all part of continuing education for the department," Bourn said.

The Milton Fire Department's TLAER team is a privately funded specialty unit utilized in Milton and Forsyth and Cherokee counties to rescue large animals. No taxpayer dollars are used for its equipment or training.

Since its inception in August 2008, TLAER has responded to more than 70 calls for help involving horses.

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