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Oct-19-2007 19:44printcomments

Firefighters Rescue Horse That Fell Through Bridge

"This is just another example of how our training in multiple disciplines of rescue operations benefits all of us... even Silky." - Canby Battalion Chief Robb Milano

Photos of horse rescue Canby, Oregon 10-19-07
Photos courtesy: Troy Buzalsky/Canby Fire

(CANBY, Ore.) - Conditions allowed Canby and Clackamas firefighters to rescue a 26-year old appaloosa horse that had fallen partly through a bridge that spanned a creek. Troy Buzalsky, Division Chief with Canby Fire, says it was a tough rescue, but the firefighters had enough "horsepower" to safely lift the animal from its precarious spot.

Buzalsky says just before 11:00 AM, Canby Fire quickly received a series of phone calls from Willamette Valley Equine wondering if the fire department could possibly help.

"The situation was a bit unclear." Buzalsky said. "But it sounded like a horse had partially fallen through a bridge. With uncertain information Canby fire sent resources out to 8230 S. Lone Elder Rd. to investigate the situation."

Upon arrival firefighters found a 1000-pound Appaloosa Horse, named Silky, whose hind legs had broken through the wooden deck boards of a bridge and were dangling just inches above the Gribble Creek.

Fortunately Buzalsky says, a veterinarian named Dr. Olmstead from Willamette Valley Equine was already on scene, and had delivered an initial sedation medication to keep Sikly calm.

"Dr. Olmstead monitored the horse's condition during the entire rescue operations, providing sedation, tranquilization, and intravenous resuscitation as needed to keep Silky calm and comfortable. Sikly's owner, Charlene Roberts as at her side throughout the entire ordeal."

Buzalsky says they had a dilemma on their hands; how to life a thousand pound horse in a precarious spot without any good structure to attach a lift to.

"Then we started thinking, that with enough firefighters and the horse under medical care, that we could probably lift her out of there."

Firefighters made a plan and called out two fire engines from Canby, and a special heavy rescue unit out of Clackamas.

"The plan was as simple as it was difficult; remove the horse's entrapped legs and pull the horse from the already damaged bridge without further injuring the 1000-pound horse. Add to the rescue scenario that the very old and very dilapidated bridge was covered with slippery wet mold, algae and leave, it had a rickety handrail, and offered uncertain structural stability."

Buzalsky says rescuers had to be extra cautious, so as to not injure rescuers during the extrication attempt.

When all the teams were assembled and all the lifting, pulling, and dragging devices were in place, rescuers put their plan into action.

At 12:21 PM they lifted, pushed, pulled and dragged Silky out of her entrapped position and into a nearby field. Dr. Olmstead evaluated the horse and stood patiently by until the sedation wore off and Silky again became alert.

Troy Buzalsky says that at 1:15 PM Silky, although unstable, stood upright and walked towards her barn for further medical attention.

Battalion Chief Robb Milano said, "This is just another example of how our training in multiple disciplines of rescue operations benefits all of us... even Silky."

Source: Troy Buzalsky/Canby Fire

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