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Whidbey horse rescue effort succeeds
In 2009 a group of Back Country Horsemen formed a committee, EERT, Equine Emergency Rescue Team. The purpose of the team is to supply equipment to the North and South Whidbey fire departments and train firemen and horse owners in extricating a horse from a trailer in the event of an accident or the rescue of large animals injured in a fall, collapsed building in case of earthquake, etc. Due to the volume of horse trailers on Whidbey, we realized that the probability of a horse trailering accident on Whidbey Island is very high.
The first formal training at the Race Road fire house occurred in September 2010. The training was geared for horse owners as well as fire department personnel and rope rescue teams. Training for most of the firefighters was provided in the form of scholarships by Island County Back Country Horseman.
Several fundraisers and demonstrations have taken place since. In March, the final fundraiser was held at Skagit Farmers in Freeland. Ken Leisher, DVM, spoke on horse first aid, and footage of live rescues was shown. The EERT was successful at raising the remaining funds for equipment.
EERT is currently working with members of both fire departments to finalize details of the equipment order. Starting this fall and winter we will be training fire department personnel in handling horses and using the new equipment. We will also work on building a list of volunteer horse owners who could be available to transport the involved horse to a safe location if the truck and or trailer is inoperable.
We wish to thank all of those who volunteered time or donated money to this project. We also want to thank the community at large, and reemphasize that this is a total volunteer organization with no taxpayer funding. We believe that this cooperative effort will be of benefit to our community. As the African proverb says: “It takes a village.”