Except for the urban areas in the Lehigh Valley, when 911 is dialed, it is volunteer, not paid firefighters who respond.
Although called "firefighters," the men and women who serve the suburban and rural areas of the Valley are often tasked with more than fighting fires.
The majority of their emergency responses tend to be for motor vehicle accidents, especially with Interstate 78, and major transportation routes, such as Routes 309 and 100 running through their coverage areas.
These dedicated volunteers need to be trained for a variety of life-saving situations and they spend many hours and weekends away from their families.
They learn how to remove persons trapped in vehicles and in house fires. They train how to respond to hazardous materials spills and, for the past two weekends, many of these volunteers practiced various scenarios on how to safely rescue injured and trapped large animals.
Members of Lehigh Valley, Carbon and Schuylkill County Animal Response Teams; Lehigh County Technical Rescue; Valley Search and Rescue, Schnecksville; Penn State Ag Rescue instructors; and volunteer firefighters from across the Lehigh Valley trained Sept. 7 and 8 at the Schnecksville Fire Company, and Sept. 14 and 15 at the Kempton Fire Station on how to safely rescue an injured horse from an overturned horse trailer and from a trench.
With the large number of dairy and horse farms, and privately-owned horses in the rural areas of the Valley, this training approved by Homeland Security following the tragic loss of animal life during Hurricane Katrina, is greatly needed.
Managers of emergency shelters, too, have learned animal owners often will not evacuate their homes without taking their pets.
Many shelters across the country have been accepting these animals during recent natural disasters.
Not too long ago, volunteer firefighters were called to Gress Mountain Ranch, Lowhill Township, when an older horse fell and could not stand again.
Volunteer firefighters and members of Lehigh Valley CART responded to the animal rescue ranch and saved the horse.
Whether it is a human or animal life at stake, these volunteers do not horse around.
Thanks to their dedication to the community and to others, they have the training and skills needed for the safe resolution of almost any emergency situation.