Police officers are trained to save lives and help victims – and in the case of one quick-thinking Whanganui Police officer, that now includes those with four legs.
Last Wednesday, Police prosecutor Sergeant Rachel Willemsen was in her office working through some files, when she got an unlikely call for help – there was badly injured horse on the roadside in urgent need of medical attention.
Rachel says a friend had been following a vehicle towing a horse float along SH3 into the city, when she saw the horse inside become panicked and turn itself around in the float, straddling the centre partition – ripping open veins and causing life-threatening injuries.
With no time to waste, she called Rachel, who with two colleagues sprang into action.
"I raced up the road to help, and sent a couple of the guys to help with traffic control. Luckily other motorists had managed to stop the driver. As I arrived at the front door of the float, I could see blood everywhere. The horse, a seven-year-old Gelding called Hunter was in a terrible state, and blood was pumping out freely," Rachel says.
"I didn't want to watch him bleed out in front of me. I hopped into the float and applied a pressure bandage to the wound until the vet arrived and the blood eventually stopped flowing. The vet managed to sedate him, and we were thankfully able to get the horse into a nearby paddock, until a specialist horse vet arrived and was able to stitch up the damaged veins and arteries.
"I did end up wearing a lot of the blood, but the best thing was that the horse got through okay, and thankfully is now on the mend."
The horse's owner, Anna Cuming says Rachel dealt with the situation calmly and with care.
"I was impressed with how Rachel dealt with the whole situation and I'm really thankful that she was there. She was incredibly helpful and level-headed," Anna says.
Rachel says the unusual rescue would not have been successful without the help of members of the public, veterinarians and other Police staff who assisted.
"While it's certainly not every day that you find yourself in a situation like this, I'm just pleased that we were able to make a difference – it doesn't really matter who the victim is."
Whanganui resident, Sue Cruickshank who was walking her dog at the time of the incident witnessed Rachel's life saving actions.
"Rachel acted very confidently and took charge of the situation immediately," says Sue.
Whanganui and Ruapehu Area Commander, Inspector Steve Mastrovich says the swift actions of Rachel and others to save the animal are typical of the dedication of staff that come to work every day to make a difference.
"Rachel's actions in this situation are another example of the excellent work our staff do everyday," says Inspector Mastrovich.