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Large Animal Rescue

Who Teaches LAR Classes?


Emergency Equine Response Unit, in Kansas.

B.E.A.R. (Basic Equine Awareness and Rescue) is a Level 1 eight-hour course designed for the horse owner and the Level 1 first responder. The B.E.A.R. course appeals to ranch owners, horse owners, firefighters, law enforcement, animal control, and rescue personnel. This course serves only as a basic awareness on large animal rescue with an emphasis on equine rescue. The B.E.A.R. course is complimentary to both the Code 3 Associates Technical Animal Rescue Course, and the Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue course instructed by Tomas and Rebecca Gimenez. B.E.A.R. also includes instruction and information given by fire Capt. John and Debbie Fox to help promote large animal rescue instruction across the nation.

Eric Thompson Eric Thompson is a graduate of Kansas University with a B.G.S. in Environmental Science and received his Police commission as a graduate of the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center. Currently Eric is the Director of Emergency Operations for national animal search and rescue team Code 3 Associates; and is a certified National Equine Cruelty Investigator.

Eric served Overland Park Police Department as the Animal Control Supervisor; and currently instructs nationally in topics such as Search/Seizure, Dangerous Animal Handling, Technical Large Animal Rescue, Chemical Immobilization, Officer Safety Tactics, and Animal Law. Eric also responds as the Operations Manager for the Emergency Equine Response Unit (EERU) out of Kansas City; and is certified in water, mud, rock, ice, fire and trailer rescues of animals. Eric has received 28 certificates of achievement from FEMA in disaster planning; and is working with several jurisdictions in both Missouri and Kansas as a disaster planning consultant by incorporating animal-related operations into existing Emergency Support Functions.

To contact Eric for consulting or instructing request please feel free to email him at ethompson@code3associates.org.

For more information on these animal rescue resources go to Emergency Equine Response Unit.


J Woods Livestock Services in Alberta, Canada.

Jennifer WoodsJennifer Woods obtained an Animal Science degree from Colorado State University in 1992. She has extensive experience with cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, elk and bison.

Currently, Jennifer works closely with and consults to the livestock industry across North America and Europe. She has been delivering livestock handling courses including Livestock Emergency Response, Livestock Behavior and Handling and Livestock Handling for Youth throughout North America since 1997. Jennifer is trained and certified in Large Animal Rescue and has been assisting on accident scenes since 1998.

Jennifer has certified Canadian universities for the Canadian Council on Animal Care and developed a livestock behavior and handling curriculum for colleges. In 2004, she started working with Dr. Temple Grandin for certification to perform Livestock Handling Audits for Auction Marts and Meat Plants.

In 2006, Jennifer was presented with the Award of Distinction for Innovation by Alberta Farm Animal Care for her Livestock Emergency Response Program. This honor is "awarded to a person/company who has developed a new process, product or source of knowledge that has made a significant impact on the improvement of the welfare of livestock and the industry. The honorees are also saluted for their effort to work collectively with the industry to share the innovation." The initiative to develop Canada�s first training program to assist first responders and livestock haulers with livestock related accidents was recognized as exemplary.

Jennifer holds Membership in Animal Transportation Association (International); Animal Agriculture Alliance; Canadian Agricultural Safety Association; and, Alberta Farm Animal Care.

For more information on these animal rescue resources go to J Woods Livestock Services.


The Large Animal Rescue Co., in California.

The Large Animal Rescue Co. delivers the California State Fire Training FSTEP class, Large Animal Rescue Operational, developed by John and Debra Fox of the Felton Fire Protection District. This training combines the technical skills of the Fire Service with an understanding of horse characteristics and behavior. The class, LAR Operational, was built on the efforts of others including Timothy Collins, Tomas and Rebecca Gimenez, and tempered by expert horsemen Ray Berta and Mark Rashid.

LAR Operational reflects the field experience gained through the many rescues performed by Felton Fire, an average of one per month. The techniques reflect innovative adaptations to cope with dramatic and remote terrain. Meticulously reviewed by experts in related fields, the class structure reflects the high standards of California State Fire Training, provides a “common page” for all emergency responders and horse owners, and offers state recognized certification in this new technical skill. Large Animal Rescue was established as an official response in Santa Cruz County in 1997.

John FoxDeb in the water John Fox has been a Firefighter/Captain/Battalion Chief with FFPD for 20 years. Previous to joining FFPD, he was a Captain with Lockheed Fire Dept. until closure of the department. An avid horseman, John established the Felton Fire Dept. LAR Unit that responds mutual aid throughout central California.

He is the primary developer of LAROperational, approved by CA State Fire Training and P.O.S.T. and is a CA State Fire Instructor 1. John also works as a Peace Officer/Investigator for the State of California.

Deb Fox has been an active responder with the FFPD for over 8 years, first as photographer then as a Firefighter/EMT. A horsewoman with 24 years experience, she is a lead in the LAR Unit and a veteran of numerous rescues. Deb earned her CA State Fire Instructor 1A and 1B and was a developer of LAROperational. She also works as a Paintings Conservator for the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

For more information on these animal rescue resources go to The Large Animal Rescue Co.


Frandford Fire Department, in Maine.

Frandford Fire Frandford Fire offers a day-long LAER Awareness program for first responders.

They also offer a 6-hour horse owner course, "Is Your Horse Rescue Ready", at clubs, seminars, and meetings. This course teaches owners how to better enable a rescue in the event of an incident, as well as the workings of rescue personnel on scene.

The goal of the Rescue Ready Owners Program is to better enable efficiencies on scenes for all horses, owners, and responders involved in a LAER incident.

Lead Instructors:
Vicki Schmidt: Maine State Fire Instructor II with Maine Fire Training & Education as well as Training Officer and firefighter for Buckfield Fire Department in Buckfield ME.

Vicki also serves on the Maine Fire Protection Services Commission, and the Advisory Council for Maine Fire Training & Education. Vicki is Training Program Coordinator for The Frandford Mutual Aid Fire Training Association and specialized in Large Animal Emergency Rescue and Firefighter I programs for rural departments. She also owns and operates Troika Drafts in Hebron ME., specializing in drafts & crosses.

Rob Dixon: Lieutenant for the Rumford Fire Department, Rumford Maine and also a paramedic and Captain for Andover Fire Dept in Andover ME. His specialties are technical rescue of all sorts as well as company operations for structural fire fighting.

Rob is also a Maine Certified Municipal Instructor II and President of the Frandford Mutual Aid Fire Training Association.

Assistant Instructors:
Frank Walker: Firefighter I and Maine Certified Municipal Instructor II for Hebron Fire Department. Frank has also been involved with showing draft horses, builds wagons, and, as a farrier, operates a haul-in farrier service for draft horses in Maine.

Gene Cote: State Fire Instructor II and Logistics Services for Maine Fire Training & Education. Gene is also a full-time paramedic and firefighter for the Portland ME Fire Department and serves on JetPort Rescue for the Portland International Jetport. His specialties are all facets of technical rescue with a passion for high and low angle.

Equine Instructors:
Troika's RIT Ready, a 2004 Shire Gelding, is the gem of the equine trainers and has a friendly passion for the smell of smoke on helmets and jackets!

Troika Ember JAC, a 2004 Shire mare, is also a favorite of students with her ability to communicate in perfect horse to human language.

New England Truffles, a 2007 Shire filly, is a natural "people horse" due to losing her mom at a very early age.

The kind nature of all these Shires makes them expert trainers for our LAER Awareness Program.

For more information on these animal rescue resources go to Frandford Fire. You can also call 207-966-2280 or email.


Sierra Rescue, in California.

Sierra Rescue is the California Regional Training Center for Rescue 3 International. They have training facilities in Quincy on the Feather River, Coloma on the South Fork American River, and in Knights Ferry on the Stanislaus River, as well as select locations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah.

Sierra Rescue specializes in swiftwater rescue, including two technical animal rescue classes. With more than 25 years experience, Sierra Rescue provides expert instruction and superior training experience in the outdoor rescue professional industry. They will happily design a class around your needs.

For more information on these animal rescue resources go to Sierra Rescue. You can also email.


Northern California Specialized Training, in California.

Large Animal Rescue Operational

This 16 hour course is designed to meet Fire Service, Law Enforcement, Animal Control, Rescue Squad, Urban Search and Rescue and County Search and Rescue team standards for Large Animal Rescue Operations.

It is a mixed lecture/experience learning course with lots of hands on practicing of animal rescue skills. Other objectives include an in-depth look at the uses of ropes in technical animal rescue, animal handling, setting up technical rope systems and much more. This course provides the knowledge and skills necessary so responders can work in "concert" with each other, guided by an understanding of horse characteristics and behavior. FSTEP certified.

Prerequisites: Low Angle Rope Rescue Operations is preferred; 18 years of age; adequate health insurance coverage; in good physical condition.

No live animals are used, and the classes are open to the public.

For more information on these animal rescue resources go to Northern California Specialized Training or email


Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue, in South Carolina.

Included are 30 hours of classroom instruction and hands on training with live trained animals, including horses and a llama. Instruction covers the use of sedatives and tranquilizers, chemical restraint, rescue ropes and knots, rescue from horse barn fires, mud rescue, helicopter rescue and water rescue, among other situations. Each session also includes a nighttime search and rescue exercise. The training covers natural disasters as well as highway mishaps, suchas overturned trailers. The techniques taught can be applied to all large animals.

A new class has been added this year: Awareness, with less hours and hands on work.

Tomas GimenezIn 1993, Dr. Tomas Gimenez was enjoying teaching endocrinology, theriogenology and doing equine research in horse reproduction and nutrition at Clemson University in Clemson, SC. But he had seen what happened to GA, SC and NC when hurricanes hit the state, and was concerned about the minimal level of disaster preparedness of most horse and cattle owners that he knew personally. Very few took the threat seriously, and even fewer had evacuation plans for their a nimals and family. That year, he attended the second International Conference on Large Animal Rescue in California – which was the brainchild of Dr. Richard Mansmann. The few people around the world who were interested in this specialty area were there including disaster planners, responders and emergency field animal rescuers. He had found a group of people who took it seriously, and when he returned he began learning and asking questions around his home state to determine the level of communication, response infrastructure and disaster planning for large animals. He found there to be minimal resources and coordination – similar to many other areas of the nation.

By 1995, Dr. Gimenez was working with the visionary Dr. Venaye Reece at the State Veterinarian's office in SC to offer small workshops and speaking about preparedness for veterinarians, plus offering some of the information that he had collected from around the world as to methods for technical emergency rescue. Much of that information was wivestales, recklessly employed, or had rarely been tested in real incidents, and thus Dr. Gimenez enlisted the assistance of some of his students at Clemson to research workable, simple and reliable methods of manipulation of large animals. (A few years later, he would marry Dr. Rebecca Bott, who was interested primarily in the behavioral responses of horses and taught their famed demonstration animals to lie down, to allow themselves to be lifted, and to cooperate for many simulated rescue training events as well as research for better equipment and techniques.)

In 1997, they were asked to put on a 1 day training event in Monk's Corner, SC with the Charleston Area Rescue Squad and Cpt. Shawn Jones; after a morning orientation via powerpoint lecture, the hands-on training events that day included overturning and cutting up a horse trailer, lifting a horse in an Anderson Sling, basic manipulation of a recumbent horse, and evaluation of various appliances that could be used on large animals. Training in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue was born! Of special note was a fundamental change in perspective: the fire service's involvement and needs for this information began to drive the evolution of new ideas and procedures to intertwine with existing Incident Command System architecture and fit with FEMA's animal rescue doctrine. By 1999, when the Gimenez's traveled to California to meet Cpt John and Debra Fox of Felton Fire District and the West Coast experts in Large Animal Rescue, they were convinced that reaching the emergency responders who actually answered the 911 calls and saw these incidents on a regular basis was crucial.

In the early days, the course was 1, then quickly 2, days of awareness level information with minimal hands on and a few demonstrations. By 2003, there was enough material for a 3 day course to be offered at the operational level for a limited number of hands-on participants, and of course there were always many auditors observing. Mud rescue of live horses, overturn and stabilization of a full size trailer, a night Search and Rescue operation capped with strapping a live (sedated) horse to a Rescue Glide, manipulation of live recumbent horses and use of a floatation device on a live animal became de rigueur for the course. USRider, Inc. became the philanthropic partner for the training events, sponsoring numerous courses, training events, educational material and supporting research into TLAER / LAR via their Leg Up Fund, and via curriculum offerings at Eastern Kentucky University. Veterinary schools began to ask for training for their students and faculty members, people of numerous professional disciplines (fire, heavy rescue, EMS, veterinarians, animal control, etc.) were starting to recognize this specialty area of rescue for what it was: dangerous, difficult, and challenging.

Dr. Tomas Gimenez's contributions to the field are innumerable, but in particular there are pieces of equipment (Nicopolous Needle, Becker Vertical Lift Web Sling, Equine Floatation Device, Carabiner Extender Poles, Schwartz Air / Water Mud Injectors, etc.) that he researched and designed with many collaborators (and is too humble to accept naming some of them after himself). He has kept the local welding shop very busy with various generations of improvements of the equipment.

Early on he saw the value of new methodologies and techniques (Widener Forward Assist configuration, Hampshire Slip, Becker Sling, etc.) and promoted their use after doing the research to prove that they worked better than previous generations of equipment. He customized the A-Frame proposed by Norco Fire Rescue to allow vertical lift of large animals; improved the design of several pieces of equipment used for these large patients (modified the early Rescue Glide, improved the Santa Barbara and Becker Slings, adopted and improved the fire hose floatation device proposed by Lexington Fire, supported the use of rope / webbing anchors and mechanical advantage for moving large animal victims, and promulgated the use of shoring and extrication techniques for confined space, trench, and motor vehicle accidents with large animals.

In 2006, Tomas designed a Mud Rescue Simulation Horse. "KEYLOR" was made to simulate the weight of a horse in the abdomen and body, about 660 pounds when filled with water. The neck and head simulate the balance point on a real horse (about 10% of the weight of the horse – so an additional 60 pounds or so when filled with water). Tomas used parts that were easily accessible at the local hardware stores – and added a mop for a tail!

Another of Tomas's innovations is the Wideman configuration. In this variation of a forward assist - similar to a Swiss Seat on a human – the webbing runs from the thoracic inlet over the withers and back down to the front of the horse, where it is looped over itself. The Hampshire Slip sideways drag configuration is also an improvement now in use.

RebeccaGimenez The other half of this dynamic duo is Dr. Rebecca Gimenez.

Rebecca Gimenez was born in central Florida (last century!) and had the wondrous privilege of being able to ride her horses just about as much as she wanted to within a 5 mile radius of her home from the time she was about12 years old. Back then it did not look like today. Swimming in the lakes, riding up and down dirt roads and sand hills, racing her friends on their horses, playing hide and go seek on horseback, learning to jump bareback - horses were her life. Those horses had minimal manners but they were ridden almost every day and usually at a rate of speed that they liked - FAST!

Occasionally she saw a horse or person get a minor injury - but she remained blissfully unaware of the tragedies between people and large animals that happened all around her. That was something that she only heard about in admonitions from her parents, or quiet whispers around school. And what do parents know when you are a teenager? Apparently a lot - her mother is still riding one of those horses at the ripe old age of 32 (the horse) and 72 (the mother) in a halter with rope reins, and her father is a passionate natural horsemanship student as well.

Traumatically separated from horses while she attended college for a BS in Biology at Wofford in Spartanburg, SC (the wisest thing her parents could have ever done!) when she graduated she purchased her very own leopard appaloosa. Back then a horse that the entire barn was afraid of because he was a renowned runaway, refused to load in a trailer, hated vaccinations, dewormer and a hose, was horrifically barn sour, and had kicked both the farrier and the veterinarian - still brought about $600. She was delighted with her new mount - somehow managed to get him home - purchased some books and videos on natural horsemanship with Lyons then Parelli (when nobody knew those names in 1992) and sallied forth to learn from Mr. Brownstone. They did everything together, won ribbons, and amazed other riders with his feats of strength and agility. (Years later when he died in 2006 she had his hide tanned and he hangs on the wall in her house - to remind her of how much he taught her that she didn't know she needed to learn.) Years went by in which she purchased a magazine with a girlfriend called "Equine and Bovine MagazineTM" as editor and freelance writer; worked as a breeding manager at a large Walking horse farm; and continued to pursue her expanding equine knowledge thru various educational outlets, mentors, especially by practicing on students and friends. Also, she enjoyed her military career in the US Army Reserves, working thru the ranks, eventually getting deployed in 2006 to Kuwait and Iraq, and is currently serving with HQ, US SOUTHCOM in Miami, FL.

In 1994 she decided to pursue a graduate degree at Clemson University - where she met her future husband and partner in TLAER. Working at a 150 horse student research and teaching farm producing numerous foals each year, she was exposed for the first time to the horrific injuries, disease processes, and realities of emergencies that horses and their people could get themselves into. Over 4 years, she saw just about every worst case scenario that could happen (trapped recumbent, severe laminitis, colicing, death, euthanasia, nasty injuries and lacerations, dystocia, orphaned foals, hung in the fence, killed by lightning, stuck in a trailer, etc.) Dr. Tomas Gimenez was her advisor - they quickly realized that there were many things that they could teach each other about horse anatomy, physiology and behavior, as well as learning together about responding better to disaster and emergencies with large animals. When they realized that no one else seemed to have most of the information they sought, their research and development began in earnest. In 1997 Rebecca graduated with a PhD in animal physiology, and began a teaching career in Biology, Immunology and Microbiology at Anderson College. By 1999 they traveled out to meet the only other couple involved in teaching large animal rescue in California (John and Deb Fox) and learn from their successes.

Rebecca's contribution to TLAER TM has been her keen observation skills and interest in horse behavior - she enjoyed teaching her horses to do things that other people considered crazy or difficult - like lying down, coming on command to their name, being calm about being mobbed by people, getting tied up with webbing and ropes to be lifted off the ground with no sedation, and standing still for difficult procedures such as vaccination, deworming, etc. It wasn't long until she was featuring the use of live animals for many of the demonstrations - students learn on some wooden and plastic mannequins, then move outside to put them into practical use with live animals, including horses and two trained llamas, Dexter and Levo.

She has continued to gather ideas, techniques and procedures that firefighters and veterinarians all over the world were employing to various levels of success- then showcase the variety of tactics available to students in their courses, and share her knowledge with anyone who stands still long enough to listen. Although divorced in 2008, Tomas and Rebecca maintain their business partnership in TLAER, Inc. and together they teach courses and work together to push, prod and pull these concepts into greater understanding for owners, students, emergency responders, and practitioners. They realized that this was a lot bigger than them - and they work to push it forward with a very small but hardworking contingent of assistant instructors who believe in what they are trying to do.

Rebecca is an active speaker at various venues from international to local, her passion for the subject is impossible to miss. She distributes information to interested people related to these issues via her constant TLAER FB page postings, freelance articles, radio and television interviews; contributes to numerous discussions on blogs, posts her opinions on a myriad of newspaper and television reports of TLAER rescues (successful and not).

In 2006 thru 2008 - to put these TTPs (tactics, techniques, procedures) and SOPs (standard operating procedures) into the hands of more people, she wrote 14 chapters and edited the other six chapter s' authors to produce the first textbook on the subject with Tomas and Kimberly May of the AVMA.

Today, Rebecca happily fills her schedule with speaking engagements, TLAER trainings, and working and playing with her horses on a farm that she and her significant other recently purchased in Macon, GA. His six year old daughter is a joyful young lady that is learning to ride even now - and you can be assured that they have great plans for that little girl to be a world famous scientist and horse lover.

At 6'2" and large framed, she is not shy to be the more vocal face of Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue, Inc. She fervently hopes that by the time she retires that large animals will be provided more consistent and safe methods of technical rescue and extrication than they are currently - and that the days of jerking a horse out of an overturned trailer or a cow out of a bog by its tail or head will be nothing but a horrific memory.

For more information on these animal rescue resources go to TLAER


Charleston County Volunteer Rescue Squad, LART in North Charleston SC

Large Animal Rescue Team Members deliver a 16 hour program developed by the team based on materials and training from the California State Fire Training Academy and Tomas and Rebecca Gimenez. The training provided combines the technical skills with an understanding of horse characteristics, behavior and responder safety at the forefront. The course involves the use or both live and mannequins to teach responders the most effective and safest way to address LAR emergencies.

The Large Animal Rescue program reflects the field experience gained through the many rescues performed by members of this specialized team in South Carolina. The techniques reflect innovative adaptations to cope with dramatic and remote areas. Charleston County Rescue Squad has been performing animal rescues since 1997.

CJCJ USARWith Smartie

Lead Instructor – Shawn Jones
Shawn has been involved in emergency services since 1990 where he stated as a volunteer fire fighter and volunteer EMT with Caromi Fire Department and South Berkeley EMS Ladson, SC. Shortly after that he went to work with North Charleston District Fire Department where he served as a Captain over the Rescue Unit and Hazmat Team. While at the District Fire Depart he became a South Carolina Fire Academy Instructor. He also worked with Ashley River Fire Department as a Battalion Chief and Fire Inspector.

In 2001, he went to work with Charleston County Emergency Preparedness Division and started as a Volunteer with the County Rescue Squad. The Rescue Squad hosted the first LAR class to be taught by Dr. Tomas and Rebecca Gimenez from Clemson University. While there he developed the County's LAR Team and the training program in conjunction with the South Carolina Clemson Livestock Poultry Health which coordinates ESF17 for the State of SC. He also developed a Disaster Animal Response Team (DART) program for the State as well, part of the CERT program.

Shawn also serves as a Logistics Section Chief with the Lowcountry type III Incident Management Team (IMT), and is a handler with the SC Search Dog Team with his trailing beagle Smartie Jones. He is also certified in Swiftwater Rescue, Technical and Trench Rescue, and a Master Scuba Diver. He along with his wife owns and operates Graymoure Stables.

Technical Rescue Instructor – Chris "CJ" Johnson
Chris "CJ" Johnson has been involved in emergency response operations and education for all of his adult life. Served in the US Navy where he was a Crash and Rescue crewman onboard the Aircraft Carrier U.S.S. America. Following his tour in the Navy, he enrolled in the Fire Science Program at Portland Community College in Portland, Oregon gaining certification as a Master Firefighter and completing his certification as an Emergency Medical Technician Intermediate. While working as a Firefighter/EMT he completed his Paramedic training in 1992. After moving to South Carolina in 1998 he earned a Bachelor of Health Sciences from MUSC in Charleston.

Throughout his career, CJ has worked as a Firefighter, Paramedic, Public Safety Officer, Critical Care Flight Paramedic, and Hospital System Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. Currently, he is the Disaster Preparedness Training Manager for the South Carolina Area Health Education Consortium. He is also involved in the South Carolina Lowcountry Regional Terrorism Task Force, South Carolina Emergency Response Task Force (SCTF-1 Urban Search and Rescue), and South Carolina 1 Disaster Medical Assistance Team (SC1 DMAT).

Mr. Johnson is a certified instructor through the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress, South Carolina State Fire Academy and U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Center for Domestic Preparedness. He has attended numerous courses throughout the country, including Weapons of Mass Destruction Hazardous Materials Technician, Incident Response to Terrorist Bombings and Advanced Tactical Management of WMD Incidents. He currently teaches courses and seminars throughout the country in Weapons of Mass Destruction Preparedness and Response, Disaster Response, Technical Rescue, Swiftwater/Flood Rescue, and Large Animal Rescue.

For more information go to LART or contact S. Jones