PEORIA, Ill. -- Responding to emergency calls involving large animals can be quite a challenge without the proper skills.
The Peoria County Farm Bureau held an equine training session Sunday for several local fire departments.
Firefighters from Tazewell, Peoria and Fulton counties got the 411 on how to rescue and handle horses and other large animals during barn fires, accidents or natural disasters.
"Large animals, especially horses, have a propensity to be dangerous, they have a tendency to be unpredictable which is what we specialize with this training," said instructor Steve Odell. " We try to teach firefighters how to stay safe."
Odell said barn fires are much more common in central Illinois than most people realize.
He said battling those types of blazes could take longer because of hay and other materials that are typically stored in barns.
Odell said without the right skills, getting the animals out may not be so easy.
"Horses have a propensity to go back into a burning barn because that is their safety zone," Odell said. "The firefighter really needs to know how to approach the horse, how to get the horse out of that comfort zone and what to do with the horse once they get them."
Unlike regular paramedic or emergency medical training for first responders, Peoria Farm Bureau officials said the training is only the third equine rescue session held locally.
"We're trying to get this certified in Champaign so it will be a regular part of firefighter training," said Rick Schotthofer of the Peoria County Farm Bureau.
They said it is training that can be vital to protecting both firefighters and animals.