Looking back at 2012 in the Large Animal Rescue arena of disasters and emergencies, we realize that interested parties and leaders in this effort have come a long way in reaching out to all aspects of the horse industry, emergency services, and veterinarians around the world. The year 2013 is expected to bring some significant steps forward in large animal rescue both in the United States and around the world.

Actual Rescues: Thanks to Google and other media search tools, there are many more actual rescues around the world that are populating the databases of large animal rescue technicians, veterinarians, and other emergency responders. Many of these are showing improvements in tactics, techniques, equipment and procedures being used to provide care to the horses trapped in various incidents. Several regional and local large animal rescue teams have celebrated five- and 10-year anniversaries, especially the Missouri Emergency Response team.

The Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue Facebook page is also sharing news and updates as they happen.If your veterinarian or local firefighter is not a member of this group, please recommend it to them. This year there have been numerous specialty and regional Facebook pages started for teams, evacuation, and resources.

Standards: A final draft of the Animal Issues Committee’s recommendations to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) technical committee for NFPA 1670 is newly finalized and will be voted on in 2013 for inclusion to the NFPA standard. This is the first time that animal issues (large and small) have been recognized by the fire service rescue components. (Outside of a specific standard for barn fires addressed by NFPA 150, and for which I am on the technical committee).

In Canada, a group is pushing the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) to develop standards for horse trailers. It has been realized that there are no standards for horse trailer manufacturers anywhere in the world related to crash testing, crush testing, nor safety of components other than axles and tires. It is hope that the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM) in the United States will follow suit in 2013.

Conferences: For the first time, an update on the status of large animal rescue training globally was given to the International Symposium of the Animal Transportation Association conference in Vancouver, Canada. Additionally, the initial results of training and preparation for response to animal airplane emergencies with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and related air transportation safety organizations at Miami International Airport was reported.

At the Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA) meeting in Indianapolis, Large Animal Rescue was featured for students.

For 2013, the Fifth International Conference on Large Animal Rescue was approved in 2012 and the site was selected as Roseworthy Campus of the University Veterinary School in South Australia for November 2-3, 2013. Interested attendees can obtain information from the executive director of Horse SA, Julie Fiedler at horsesa@horsesa.asn.au.

The last four international conferences were held in 1992 and 1993 (California), 2005 (New York) and 2008 (Lynhurst, UK). So many changes, technique improvement and equipment has been brought into use, and many scientific advances related to technical aspects of large animal rescue that it is high time for another conference to bring the leaders of these disciplines together to learn from each other, and to discuss the future.

Teaching and Training: The first course for future FEMA certification was piloted at Texas A&M University in 2012 by Dr. Cheryl Ellis and the group at UC Davis in California. For the first time, an instructor group associated with Parelli Natural Horsemanship (Kelly Sigler) is offering courses targeted at horse owners working with their own horses to introduce TLAER type skills and prevention techniques. After attending an Operations TLAER course in 2011, Kelly realized that dedicated horse owners needed a way to practice these aspects with their own horses. For information contact Kelly Sigler at kelly@kellysigler.com.

An online course with modules to introduce specific aspects of large animal rescue skills and techniques will be offered by the end of 2013 by JPA Associates and TLAER, Inc. National recognition of large animal rescue training was featured in a National Public Radio story.

Newsletter: The fifth full year of publication of the Large Animal Rescue Newsletter was reported by Michelle Staples, who has faithfully pulled information from around the world related to any aspect of rescue, heavy rescue, animal transportation, animal safety, and animal behavior into a newsletter for a monthly distribution. You can sign up by sending an email to her at michelle_staples@hughes.net.

 Around the World: The very dedicated team headed by Jim Green in Hampshire Fire Service in the United Kingdom continues to improve their equipment and procedures, standards development, education outreach and are offering training around the UK to firefighters and veterinarians. Their reach extends into Europe and the Eurpean Union, where they are promulgating their success to other brigades.

For the third year in a row, large animal rescue classes were offered in Australia, and for the first time that included two Operations level TLAER courses. Numerous train-the-trainer courses have been offered for the State Emergency Services (SES) and rural or country fire services by a dedicated team of Australians that are working to spread improved information across their country. Contact is Mary Anne Leighton at maryanne-leighton@bigpond.com.

In South America, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is continuing to emphasize large animal rescue equipment, training and standards for emergency responders and is pushing the incorporation of large animal rescue into plans for disasters as well as emergencies.

Equipment: There are now “Randy the Horse Rescue Mannequin” rubber horses available as training equipment in the United States (eight horses), Australia (three horses), United Kingdom (eight horses), and Europe (12 horses). These mannequins are made in the United Kingdom as specialty equipment that lock to stand and are fully bendable, made to survive the difficult constraints of being thrown into the mud or overturned in a trailer, or turned upside down in a ditch for rescue practice. It is hoped that more departments, veterinary schools and organizations providing training will obtain these to make training more realistic in numerous scenarios. Development continues on several improvements to vertical lift slings, technical equipment and specialty tools for large animal rescue around the world and is expected to be featured at the 2013 International Conference.

See www.tlaer.org for more information. And here's to a happy and safe 2013!