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Mountain Connection

In rides Jeffco Mounted Search & Rescue

06/27/2012 11:23, Published by Jacqueline, Categories: Health+Wellness

Some evacuations are harder than others. Experts come to the rescue,

by Margo Hamilton

A lightning bolt set the foothills of Fort Collins aflame with a fire so fierce that, at one point, it was predicted it would take until the fall to fully extinguish the monstrous blaze. Now there are more fires.

With pets, people and livestock displaced, there are crews of volunteers, nonprofit organizations and professionals who stand ready to help. They spend many hours training, planning and preparing to evacuate pets, horses, llamas, cows, goats and even yaks.

These are common people who provide extraordinary services while risking their own lives to rescue the four-legged members of your family.

Jeffco Mounted Search and Rescue (JMSAR) is a mounted horse unit trained in first aid, CPR, land navigation, personal and equine survival, and other outdoor skills. In addition to tracking lost persons or missing livestock, JMSAR is fully trained and certified to assist in evacuating horses and livestock.

Kristi Esch is the secretary and has been a member of JMSAR since 2004. She shared, “JMSAR is comprised of caring people who are incredible with horses and have compassionate hearts. Horses are perfect in search and rescue missions as they can go into areas ATVs cannot. Riders can hear sounds and track the terrain that might be missed on an ATV. We also are at the ready to help communities as volunteers. We come to Evergreen during the Evergreen Rodeo to assist the rodeo competitors and rodeo royalty park their rigs to ensure they have easy in and out access to the arena with their horses. We attend mock trainings with other rescue agencies, such as the Evergreen Fire Department. We also serve in a volunteer capacity at the Outdoor Education Lab in Evergreen to teach students our rescue methods and tactics.”

JMSAR members helped formulate the Jefferson County Emergency Evacuation Plan. Barb Suggs, Jefferson County horse counsel emergency operations manager, said, “JMSAR haulers have large trailers and their haulers are approved through JeffCo Animal Control. They know the evacuation protocol and procedures since they were on the ground floor to help create the plan. Their trucks and trailers are inspected and approved to ensure the safety of the animals they rescue. We volunteer to care for the animals once they are evacuated, and JMSAR ensures your animals are tagged with identifying numbers and complete paperwork to ensure your animals are tracked throughout the evacuation process.”

In addition to evacuating animals, JMSAR is trained to use radios and GPS to locate downed aircraft, lost hunters or hikers. They said, “We are designed to complement, not replace, services provided by law enforcement, volunteers on foot or all-terrain vehicles.”
To help JMSAR, and other agencies involved in the evacuation of your livestock, ensure that your driveways are accessible for their rigs, with ample room to turn around quickly and safely. Above all, make sure your horses are halter and trailer broke and comfortable with people other than yourself handling them. Once you receive a reverse 911 call warning of a possible evacuation, move your horses to safety at that time. If they don’t haul, ride them to safety and let someone else drive your vehicles out. JMSAR and other evacuation teams have limited time to get your animals in a trailer, plus numbering them and completing the paperwork. The last thing needed is getting frightened horses in trailers and off to safety when they are not used to being handled or hauled.

Be sure you have your livestock inspection papers and make copies to keep in the glove compartment of your car because you will need to identify your livestock for them to be released to go back home.

JMSAR members are visible wearing their red shirts. You can help them by participating in their annual gymkhana fund raiser. To learn more about their mission and programs, find them on Facebook.

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