News: Nevada Guard Mustangs improve horse-rescue skills
Story by Staff Sgt. Michael Getten
RENO, Nev. - In an emergency situation, a Nevada Army Guard Mustang can be a horse’s best friend.
That fact was clear April 25 here at the Army Aviation Support Facility during a horse rescue training session that included the 1/189th Ground Support Aviation Battalion (nicknamed the Mustangs), the Washoe County Regional Animal Services office and the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District. The event marked the first time a Nevada Army Guard helicopter participated in large-animal rescue training.
Throughout the day, Mustang 88 a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, crewed by 1/189th Soldiers worked with animal rescue crews hooking-up different sling harnesses containing horse mannequins to simulate real-life situations. Teams rotated until all were comfortable working under the helicopter.
The interagency training stemmed from Pets Evacuation and Transportation act signed into law on Oct. 6, 2006. The law requires each state to include animal rescue in its emergency plans.
“The Federal Emergency Management Agency mandates every state and county include pet rescue in its emergency plan,” said Berry Brode, the director of Washoe County Animal Services. “Here in northern Nevada, people have a lot of horses; therefore, we need to train in large-animal rescue techniques”
Although the WCAS staff trained for several days in other rescue techniques, the aviators completed their requisite training in one day.
“We are a last resort called in only in extreme circumstances,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Daniel Walters, an instructor pilot. “For Soldiers, this is similar to common long-line or sling-load training. But these civilian animal rescue workers need to experience what it is like operating under a helicopter.”
“We conduct inter-agency training so that everyone recognizes each agency’s respective capabilities and what we can do together.” said Bobby Smith, the operational supervisor for Washoe County Animal Services. “The joint training with the Guard provides knowledge of each other’s skill sets and allows us to conduct safety training when working with a helicopter.”
The primary focus of the training was the safety of the human rescuers during a rescue.
“The safety of the people is more important than the safety the animal,” Brode said. “The importance of this training is to have certified personnel available if a horse requires rescue.
“If all other options have been exhausted, we will call for the Nevada National Guard or Nevada Department of Forestry to assist with the rescue. And those personnel will be familiar with the rescue techniques.”