SAN BERNARDINO>> On May 11, 2017 the San Bernardino County dispatch center was notified that a female rider and her horse had fallen approximately 300 feet from the Santa Ana River Trail in Angelus Oaks.
The rider and ~1,200 pound horse came to rest on a steep hillside and were unable to walk to safety. A battalion chief and two engines from the San Bernardino County Fire Dept., one ambulance from Big Bear Fire and the large animal rescue team from the Rancho Cucamonga Fire Dept. were dispatched.
A patrol helicopter from the California Highway Patrol in the area joined the effort and guided rescuers to the scene. H80 reported the horse and victim were on a steep shale covered chute. Based on the report the battalion chief requested a hoist capable helicopter while on route to the incident. That request went to the San Bernardino County Sheriff Department Aviation Division for Air Rescue 06 (AR06) crewed with two SBSO and two SBCoFD personnel. The Bell 205 A++ is a Medium Helicopter capable of this type of mission. Ground crews assisted the 63 year old female rider over the rocky terrain to safety and transported her by ground ambulance to a local hospital with minor injuries.
The Rancho Cucamonga Fire Dept. large animal rescue team and the owner’s veterinary assessed and prepared the equine for rescue. The horse was sedated, placed in a specialized harness and lifted by long line to a waiting horse trailer. At 1:40 PM the plan was delayed when AR06 declared an emergency due to hydraulic failure. The helicopter returned safely to its’ base at the San Bernardino International Airport. Immediately SBCoFD leadership reached out to local cooperators for help.
The Los Angeles County Fire Dept. and Orange County Fire Dept. accepted the mission. LACoFD Copter 19(Copter19) was dispatched due to it’s shorter flight time. Copter19 is a Sikorsky S70A Firehawk crewed with three personnel. Fortunately, the crew completed their annual equine rescue training last week.
At 5:45 PM Copter19 landed on scene to prepare the helicopter for the mission. The horse was sedated and placed in a harness. By 6:04 PM the horse was safely loaded in a trailer with only minor cuts and scratches. Thanks to efforts of San Bernardino Co FD, San Bernardino Co Sheriff, Big Bear Fire, Rancho Cucamonga FD, Los Angeles County FD and California Highway Patrol the rider and her horse made it home alive.
Remember, before travelling in the back country check in with family and friends. Let them know the area you will be in, how long you plan to out and call them when you return home.