Bill Handel

Bill Handel

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Rescue helicopter pulls horse from debris to safety

Operation Rescue!

In what the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) has called, "one of the most technical horse rescues we have performed," as fire officials used a helicopter to rescue a horse in San Juan Capistrano.

The horse and its experienced rider were on a horse trail in San Juan Capistrano when the horse was spooked and ran off! The rider was able to safely dismount from the horse before it ran away.

The horse was found near a concrete ledge and stuck on its back. The poor horse was wedged upside down between pieces of concrete and exposed rebar! It was unclear whether the horse fell off the concrete ledge 6 feet above the point it was trapped, or if it was running below the ledge and hit something, getting stuck between pieces of concrete.

Members of the OCFA technical rescue team, air operations, and firefighters worked together with veterinarians to rescue the horse!

Veterinarians sedated the horse where it was trapped at the start of the rescue operation. Firefighters then dug around the horse to get as much debris out of the way as possible, while technical rescue firefighters "rigged an alternative rope and webbing system to secure the horse" before the airlift. The horse had to be moved horizontally in one specific direction to avoid injury.

Team members on the ground gave the helicopter a landmark for which direction to move the horse away from the concrete before it was lifted out of the debris.

As the horse was lowered to safety, it was treated by veterinarians who assisted it was it recovered from the sedation. The horse was quick to stand up once it was out of the concrete.
"Crews were happy to see the horse they worked so diligently to rescue, get up and walk on its own to the horse transport to seek further medical evaluation," the OFCA said on Twitter.

The horse is expected to make a full recovery.

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