San Bernardino County has expanded its rescue services to include a Large Animal Rescue Team. The team is based out of Fire Station 305 in Hesperia which currently houses an Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) unit.

Urban Search and Rescue teams respond to events such as earthquakes and other incidents that cause widespread damage to a variety of structures and entrap up to hundreds or thousands of people. Other examples of USAR events can range from mass transportation accidents with multiple victims to single-site events such as a trench cave-in or permit required confined space rescue and swiftwater rescue. County Fire’s USAR team has recently deployed for two weeks during the unprecedented storms in our local mountains. Crews provided structural triage, shoring and rescue operations in the affected areas.

The new equipment and trailer are vital for rescuing large animals where conventional fire & rescue tools are unable to assist. Specialized tools, harnesses and equipment will allow firefighter to safely rescues horses, cows or other large livestock. A 400 pound realistic horse prop is used to safely facilitate training. The horse is realistic in size and can be manipulated at joints to make realistic rescue scenarios.

The team can be activated throughout County Fire’s jurisdiction and neighboring agencies as well. USAR personnel this week have been providing in service training to area crews to familiarize our firefighters with the new equipment. The Large Animal Rescue Team has already been activated to the community of Muscoy in March, where they reached 17 large animals stuck in deep mud. Besides the large animals, crews rescued 30 medium sized animals.