H-CENTRAL COAST

Aug 13, 2013 9:22 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News

Rescue crews train to rescue large animals

There are only a few crews that can handle rescue situations involving large animals. On Tuesday, several Central Coast search and rescue units got hands-on experience in such a situation.

"If we had a horse stuck mid-slope, wounded or unable to get down the hill, we could go in, put on the sling, have the chopper hover above, connect and then short haul that horse to safe ground," said Chopper Pilot Jon Kingman.

Annie, a 22-year old, 1,200 pound mare is the live volunteer for Tuesday's exercise.

"Between all the ranchers, the horseback riders, people training for rodeos and so on, we have a lot of accidents and injuries involving both horses and their riders," said Kingman.

While they have practiced this before, this is the first time with a live animal.

"For us to know what to expect as opposed to just training with a dummy, that's very innocuous," said Kingman.

In order to make sure she's comfortable, Annie was given a sedative by onsite veterinarian Dr. Andy Dibbern, DVM.

The crew's first plan of action is to hook the injured horse into what they call an Anderson sling.

Once Annie is hooked in, the pilots will slowly lift her from the ground, minding the rugged terrain where she's located and sudden wind gusts overhead.

With one quick lift, crews are able to know, that if this scenario were real, Annie would be okay.

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