Equine abstracts HELICOPTER RESCUE – TO FLY OR NOT TO FLY
Version of Record online: 1 SEP 2004
Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care
Volume 14, Issue S1, pages S1–S17, September 2004
How to Cite
Gimenez, R. M., Gimenez, T. and Baker, J. (2004), Equine abstracts HELICOPTER RESCUE – TO FLY OR NOT TO FLY. Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, 14: S1–S17. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-4431.2004.t01-31-04035.x
- Issue online: 1 SEP 2004
- Version of Record online: 1 SEP 2004
- Cited By
Improved options for the successful transport of horses trapped in inaccessible areas (floodwater, steep ravines, etc.) during a disaster or emergency are available to practitioners using helicopter assets and the Anderson Sling™. Horses present a particularly difficult problem to remove from the rescue environment of a wide flooded area, or difficult steep terrain far from access by vehicles or heavy equipment. Due to their fractious and fearful nature, they may fight any effort to walk, climb or swim them to safety, and those attempts are inherently very dangerous for the rescuer(s). Unfortunately, many disaster or emergency scenarios may occur in areas not conducive to the use of other options (barge, rescue glide, simple vertical lift sling). Veterinary practitioners on scene should have familiarity with helicopter sling-load operations.
The use of cargo nets, inappropriate home-made slings, and inadequate equipment has contributed to disastrous efforts by well-intentioned rescuers. There have even been desperate attempts at sling loading of cattle by roping the horns or one leg and transporting them into a waiting truck for removal from public lands.
The Anderson Sling™ has been successfully used for helicopter operations in multiple emergencies and training demonstration flights, and is the only Equine Sling recommended for this purpose. Although it was originally intended for clinical use in long-term recovery cases, it has become the industry standard for helicopter operations with equines because of its demonstrated safety margin, design and strength. In clinical use, leg straps further distribute the animal's weight to the legs, but are not necessary in rescue lifts. In some states, there are Large Animal Rescue Teams associated with the Veterinary School, the State Emergency Management Association, or local private Equine Ambulance Services that may have equipment and personnel trained in helicopter sling-loading. This is a specialty interest that requires prior coordination, significant planning, and training of all personnel involved.