New NFPA 1670 chapter gives guidance on conducting animal technical rescues

By Ryan McGinnis
For NFPA Journal July/August

Two years ago, John Haven was sitting down to eat dinner with his wife in his Gainesville, Florida, home when his phone rang. It was a local fire chief calling with the news that a dog had fallen down a 50-foot sinkhole in a city park while playing fetch with its owner. First responders were on scene and preparing a rescue, but the chief was concerned about the plan, which involved an improvised rope-and-pulley system that would lower a responder into the hole, then lift him out as he held the dog in his arms. “Your team can do this better, smarter, and safer, right?” the chief asked.

“Sure,” Haven said. “We’ll be there in 30 minutes.”

Haven’s team is the University of Florida Veterinary Emergency Treatment Services, part of the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine, which Haven directs. The 50-member team includes a smaller core group trained in both advanced human technical rescue and animal technical rescue, and Haven was part of a five-member crew that responded to the chief’s request for assistance with the dog in the sinkhole. Haven’s group had conducted previous training exercises with Alachua County Fire Rescue, the first responders on the scene, and the team was in touch with the chief while they were en route to the park, allowing it to get a compete picture of the situation and assign tasks before it arrived. Haven described for the chief the type of rigging setup they’d need for the rescue, and the chief told him it would be ready to go when they got there.

Read the full article on NFPA Journal.