The first minutes after any accident are crucial, particularly for the lives of people or animals.
While rescue practices and techniques for humans are down pat on the Mid Coast, operation procedures for the treatment of animals are not common for first responders.
That's why about 130 emergency personnel took part in a large animal rescue training course, jointly promoted by Fire and Rescue NSW and the State Emergency Service.
The course ran across four sessions in Nabiac, Port Macquarie, Macksville and Wauchope.
Personnel from Forster, Nabiac, Tea Gardens, Taree and Wingham attended the final session at Nabiac Showground on Monday, September 30 to learn about contemporary procedures, techniques and specialised training for accidents involving large animals.
Armed with a float, horse mannequin and, at one stage, a live horse, Hawkesbury SES Unit deputy commander, David King used a step-by-step approach to demonstrate the techniques, rescue gear and apparatuses needed in an emergency.
Mr King said the course gave first responders practical experience to deal with any incident involving large animals.
"Around NSW we have our large domestic animals getting caught in all sorts of predicaments, in septic tanks, in mud, in creeks or falling through horse float floors," he said.
"We haven't traditionally given our rescue operators training in what to do so this is about providing the tools to do a safe rescue of large animals from all the various predicaments."
It's all about keeping first responders and animals safe in a rescue operation.
"What a lot of people don't know is when a horse is trapped it becomes highly aroused, highly stimulated and is a dangerous animal," he said.
Sadly, I've made mistakes, I've hurt horses and can probably say I've killed horses but we've learnt so many lessons and we engage some of Australia's best vets to help develop what I'd say are world's best practices.David King
"It can thrash, kick, throw it's head and run away.
"If you get caught between that you will get hurt, you'll break legs or you could die so the key thing of this course is to ensure our rescue operators are aware of the dangers but conversely we give them the tools to go in safely, restrain the animal and get the vet involved.
"With the vet, they can sedate the animal and then as rescuers we can do some amazing stuff like slinging and extricating the animal and hopefully get it to safety."
The course rectifies former practices in large animal rescues.
"I've been involved with rescue for about 34 years and in the Hawksebury area we have rescued large numbers of horses.
"Sadly, I've made mistakes, I've hurt horses and can probably say I've killed horses but we've learnt so many lessons and we engage some of Australia's best vets to help develop what I'd say are world's best practices.
"Today we're here to pass on our skills and knowledge from our experiences so our rescue operators can do world's best practices for our horses and cattle."
Mr King had sound advice for animal owners dealing with an accident.
"One of the key messages we need to give the public is they need to stay calm. If they get upset and crying, the animal will thrash.
"Ring your vet and they will come in and manage the sedation of the horse and at the same time ring triple zero.
"In NSW if your animal is trapped, triple zero means you will get trained rescue operators to come out and safely extricate your animal from its predicament.
"We are so lucky in NSW that our public can ring triple zero."
A common scenario throughout the course was animals stuck in mud due to the ongoing drought.
"All around NSW, every dam is drying up and stock are desperate to get a drink and once it (the animal) gets into the mud it's the gumboot effect where each limb is stuck in the mud and can't get out.
"Sadly many farmers will put a sling around the animal's neck, put on the four-wheel-drive and drive off.
"We have techniques to free up those trapped limbs from the mud and the slings to get around the animals to spread the load around the body and humanely get the animal out of the mud."
The course also covered the proper techniques to avoid the spread of Q Fever and Hendra Virus.
These are harmful to both animals and emergency personnel.
Local Land Services play a key role in accidents involving animals.
District veterinarian Dr Lyndell Stone was on hand to prepare for any emergency she may face.
"Local Land Services play a role in transport accidents for the welfare of livestock," she said.
"I'm here to develop relationships with Fire and Rescue and the SES and how I work with them."
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