Control measure knowledge

Chemical restraint, through the use of veterinary drugs, has to be administered by a specialist, such as a veterinary surgeon.

Chemical restraint methods may be used to:

  • Reduce responsiveness through sedation – sedation reduces the responsiveness of an animal but does not produce unconsciousness; the animal may still react to stimulation
  • Totally immobilise through anaesthesia – this may be used if the nature of the incident requires additional control; it can be delivered by injection, blow pipe or dart gun

The effects and timescales of chemical restraint will vary depending on the method, dosage and levels of stimulation experienced by the animal, before and during its rescue. It may be necessary for the chemical restraint to remain effective after rescuing the animal, for example to assist with taking it to an appropriate destination.

A suitable and safe anaesthesia recovery area will need to be identified for the animal to remain in, until it has sufficiently recovered from the effects of the anaesthetic.

The drugs and administering equipment, such as needles and syringes, used to carry out chemical restraint are extremely hazardous. The veterinary surgeon has responsibility for the safety of these items, but emergency responders should be made aware of their presence.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Maintain or have access to a directory of veterinary surgeons

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Be aware of directories maintained by other organisations, for example a list of veterinary surgeons registered with the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) or with the British Animal Rescue and Trauma Care Association (BARTA)

  • Request a veterinary surgeon if chemical restraint is required

  • Liaise with the veterinary surgeon about the level and duration of chemical restraint that is required and to identify a suitable and safe anaesthesia recovery area

  • Ensure that emergency responders are made aware of the presence of veterinary drugs and administering equipment, such as needles and syringes, used for chemical restraint