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QUESTION
I have heard of LAR and have been quite interested in attending a training session for some time.
After a person receives this training is it recommended or mandatory to notify local authorities in the event that there is ever an accident and trained responders are needed? Also is it recommended to periodically go for additional training to refresh on skills?
It is not MANDATORY to contact the response agencies in your area. In fact, many of them are very resistant to "outside" help or suggestions. The training DOES recommend that you establish a dialog with them, however. If you take any kind of disaster training you'll learn this. Like any other kind of training that you don't use in everyday life, you'll start to lose it over time, so you may want to refresh it after a while. Think of CPR training. A fairly painless way to do this is to set up training in your area; then you attend for free.

If you want to work with/be accepted by emergency responders, I recommend two things: Start networking with them now, tell them your plans and concerns, get them out to your place to "fire proof" it (then they'll know where you live in case you need them), encourage them to train as well, talk to them about how you can help them, invite them to speak to your horse group. And learn their language. If you can't fit into the ICS you won't be heard. If you don't know what the ICS is, then start taking those FEMA classes!

Get your horse community involved. Set up a phone tree; get your disaster/evacuation plans in order; set up practice and mitigation days; develop your response kits. Start gathering equipment you'll need. Start with, "If I'm totally on my own, what will I need to get the job done?" Set some standards. Everyone on your "team" should have a minimum of training/knowledge. That establishes your credibility with responders.

Get resource information and give it to your responders for dispatch. This would include a list of horse people with the skills and training to help, large animal vets who are willing to respond and will establish an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding – sample at the back of my book) with the responders, a list of haulers who will turn out to an emergency, and the location of any specialized equipment in your area, such as a rescue glide, or Anderson or Becker sling.

Just a word of caution: wanting don't necessarily make it so. You may find, as I did, that you can't get training in your area, and if you can manage to bring trainers in, the emergency responders (which is mainly the fire dept, secondly animal control) just aren't interested.

This is why I publish the information I do. I wrote my LAR book because the local responders weren't interested in training and I felt that at least the horse owners should have a clue.

That's a universal problem, BTW; I hear about it from frustrated horse owners all the time when they order my book! I wrote the first class, Horse Awareness, because the instructors in my area didn't use live animals and the responders were uncomfortable approaching a horse even after they learned the skills. I heard the same thing from fire chiefs across North America. "We can bring in the training, but our personnel are afraid to get close to a horse". Thats why this class starts in a classroom with basic info, then moves into an arena with horse/handler teams.

Horse owners are realizing that the chances of their responders knowing what to do are pretty slim, and getting to be more so. About 1% of emergency responders have taken LAR training. Over 70% are volunteer units with no funds or time for specialized training, especially involving animals. If you go outside North America the percentage is lower than 1%. And we're the leading edge in the field. Our LAR instructors, though, are top notch.