Essex Fire Service launch new rescue service at Writtle College

April 2011

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(NOTE: This is an archived press release.)

23 Essex Fire Fighters and Officers have been undergoing bespoke large animal rescue training at Writtle College since 2008, in preparation for the launch of their new large animal rescue service. The service was officially launched yesterday at Writtle College.

The launch exhibited specialist rescue equipment complete with hoist and replica plastic horse – full size and weighing just over half the weight of a live horse. Speaking at the launch was Station Officer, Toby Ingham and he said: “The initiative was born out of the equine industry from organisations such as the RSPCA and The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), who were concerned with the ‘Safer Horse Rescues’ protocol.”

“Animal rescue is one of the most dangerous and unpredictable services we offer, and we therefore have to be concerned with the welfare of our crew in these rescue situations. With a little investment in professional training and the right equipment we have been able to develop a service that considers both the welfare of the large animal and of our officers involved.”

Dr Heidi Janicke, Course Scheme Manager for Equine Science, and Lecturer on the training sessions at the College spoke about the training that the Fire and Rescue crew have been put at Writtle College: “With the Fire and Rescue service crew coming through training sessions at the College we are able to train them to deal with a variety of animals. The College has a large number of resources and facilities available for this type of practical training, and in addition we have been able to advise on animal behaviour and handling.”

“Most livestock we deal with at the College tends to be ‘flight animals’ or prey, also their first instinct is to get away as fast as possible. If that means hurting anything that’s around them, then they will do that. So understanding their behaviour and how they respond to human interaction is quite useful in getting them out of a dangerous situation much quicker.”

Writtle College, with its leading equine and animal science reputation within Essex, was selected by the Fire Service to be the official training ground for officers. The Short Course Training department at Writtle College were commissioned by Fire Service officials to create a bespoke training course preparing Officers for a number of large animal rescue scenarios.

The training course at the College included a number of practical and theoretical sessions covering topic areas such as: sedation, animal behaviour, and sensory considerations. To further facilitate the training Writtle College dug a trench and pit in campus grounds.

Currently the Essex Fire Service attends approximately 80 large animal rescues a year and this number is likely to increase once the service capability is launched.

Pictured: Essex Fire Service Crew with the full range of new equipment and Dr Heidi Janicke from Writtle College (far left)