A specialist crew from Wellingborough fire station have been crowned the first ever national champions in animal rescue.
The fire crew attended the recent UKRO (United Kingdom Rescue Organisation) Challenge held in Eastleigh, Hampshire, where they clinched the winning title in the animal rescue section.
The event attracted fire services from across the country, who competed by performing a variety of rescues ranging from road traffic collision, water and rope rescues to trauma challenges.
The Wellingborough team participated in a range of animal rescue scenarios, alongside eight teams from across the UK, and successfully defeated the competition to be named national champions.
The scenarios involved actors playing human casualties and the use of life-sized mannequins to represent animals.
One of the challenges involved a staged rescue of a horse and rider who had become trapped while attempting a jump over a high fence.
Watch manager Russ Thorne said: “This was the first year the competition has included an Animal Rescue Category and, as we have a specialist animal rescue unit based at Wellingborough, we were happy to take part.
“The judges included representatives from UKRO, from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and from BARTA (British Animal Rescue and Trauma Care Association).
“We were assessed on lots of different areas including casualty care and animal care, but fortunately we rose to the challenge and I’m really pleased we were finally named national champions and had the opportunity to showcase the skills our team members have to offer.
“Animal rescue in real life is such a challenging discipline as you hardly ever encounter the same situation twice; animals are so unpredictable in their behaviour. I would estimate that animal rescue now makes up about 10 per cent of our work and it is a vital part of what we do.”
Steve Apter, Chairman of UKRO, said he was really pleased to see animal rescue as part of the challenge. He said: “UKRO is all about advancing professional rescue across the wide range of technical rescue skills within our modern Fire Service. On behalf of all in UKRO, our congratulations go to the team from Northamptonshire who demonstrated such a high level of skill and professionalism.”