SAMSAR Emergency Rescue

Colleen Leon comforts the downed Saddlebred

On January 2nd, 2018 at about 10:00 am, Southern Arizona Mounted Search and Rescue (SAMSAR) was contacted about an emergency situation involving a 24 year old Saddlebred mare who had fallen into a ravine in the Saguaro National Park in Pima County, Arizona. SAMSAR founding members, Colleen Leon and Deb Mitchell, RN and medical trainer, responded and discovered the horse’s rider had been pinned under the downed horse by her leg for a brief period of time. She was freed and despite an injury is in good condition.

The Saddlebred had fallen into a ravine on the Shantz and Loma Verde Trail. Though the ravine was shallow, the horse experienced difficulty in freeing herself without assistance. She was able to climb part way out with help from rescue workers, but finally succumbed to exhaustion.  It was then that SAMSAR and a number of local volunteers proceeded in the effort to pull her the rest of the way out of the ravine by hand, as machinery was not able to access the area. The mare was placed on hydrating IV’s, steroids and banamine to help her get through the ordeal.  The rescue effort took three hours in exhausting 85 degree desert temperatures.  Finally, the mare was pulled out from the ravine and then helped to her feet by the many members of the rescue team. Upon standing, the team supported her on each side while she regained her strength and could then be transported for medical care at about 4:00 pm.

Colleen Leon, who serves as Search and Rescue Coordinator, Public Relations, and Lead Trainer of SAMSAR stated, “The mare had a very sweet disposition, bless her heart, with a very strong will to live! The rescue involved three very hot  hours of effort made by a large group of volunteers who gathered to get this sweet mare out of trouble.  SAMSAR founding member, Jerry Simmons, led the team to this successful rescue.  Jerry is one of two SAMSAR members Certified in Large Animal Rescue.”

“I love the people that we work with,” continues Colleen. “SAMSAR does search and rescue for the Pima County sheriff’s department as volunteers. The sheriffs call us in when there is a person who has been injured in a place where it is difficult to access or where motorized vehicles are unable to go in and get them. We put the injured on horses and carry them out.  The search and rescue deputies train with us and our horses, and one deputy in charge of our unit has even learned to ride. We work with the National Park Service staff addressing behavior around horses and how to load and unload patients with our equipment. We also train with our rural metro fire department similarly.”

SAMSAR would like to express a huge “Thank You” to the many, many people who came together to save this magnificent animal; the Wranglers at Tanque Verde Guest Ranch, Saguaro Park Rangers and the Pima County Search and Rescue Deputies, Dpty. Brian Boll, Dpty Robert Raterink and Dpty. Steve West, as well as veterinarian Dr. Wagner and her incredible Vet Tech, Earl.”

“We have been advised that the Saddlebred is expected to make a full recovery.  The outcome could not have been better!”

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