Emergency crews in Pennsylvania had to put on their thinking caps to successfully carry out their latest rescue mission: a horse stuck -- and still sinking -- in a mud pit.
911 Photography was there to capture every stage of the complicated rescue as well.
It took a huge collaborative effort for crews to keep the fatigued horse propped up in the mud and then to extricate him. (Photo: 911 Photography)
Fairfield Fire and EMS were called Sunday morning to help extract the distressed 18-year-old horse. When the crews arrived, the horse named "Wrangler" had mud up to his shoulders and was having trouble keeping his head up, according to a news release.
The department's Assistant Chief Dave Millstein told TheBlaze the rescuers had never encountered a situation like this before, but that their first thought was to evaluate what they had on hand and at their disposal to help stabilize the animal.
The "extrication team's" first priority was to keep Wrangler's head above the mud. As that team worked, other support was called in, including tactical rescue teams, Lady and Tayler Towing and veterinarians.
Given that it would be up to an hour for the other teams to arrive, the extrication team took some innovative measures to provide support to the tired horse.
"First, a 25-foot section of fire hose was placed into the mud, underneath the horse’s front shoulders. This hose was then filled with air forming a large 'balloon' and providing some buoyancy to Wrangler," the department release stated. "Next, high-pressure air bags were worked into the mud around the horse and slowly inflated and positioned to provide additional buoyancy."
Millstein said it was a group process coming up with these ideas, but specifically credited Deputy Chief Adam Jacobs and firefighter and former Chief Bill Jacobs for re-purposing items the teams had on hand for other rescue scenarios to this situation.
With these tactics, the team was able to raise the horse 18 inches and "broke the suction" the mud had on the animal, a critical part of the rescue.
Once the tow truck arrived, nylon straps were put under the horse. Once the second strap was secured, the horse was lifted out of the mud and lowered onto a plywood platform.
Wrangler's owners believe he was stuck in the pit since early Sunday morning. (Photo: 911 Photography)
Wrangler was lifted out with a tow truck. (Photo: 911 Photography)
Amazingly, Wrangler was able to walk under his own power after being extracted from the mud.
Wrangler free from the mud pit after the three-hour rescue operation. (Photo: 911 Photography)
"This was a difficult rescue involving a situation Fairfield Fire and EMS has never encountered," the press release stated. The whole ordeal, which involved personnel from multiple counties, took three hours.
"I was also a fireman for 20 years, but I never saw anything like this in that time," Steve Roth, who owns 911 Photography, told TheBlaze in an email. "The Fairfield firefighters did a remarkable job with the rescue, for not being specialists in animal rescues, they improvised using the tools and knowledge they (had)."
Overall, Millstein said the team wasn't exactly sure if what they were doing was going to work out -- thankfully it did. Going forward, he said they plan to conduct trainings with other groups in the area to learn more tactics for large animal rescue.
Check out more photos of the rescue in 911 Photography's full gallery.