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Heroic Oklahoma First Responders, part I

Published: 6/15/2013
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Editor's Note:
Michele De Vinney Schmoll helps Horse Evacuations East, owns a Virginia farm and is volunteer coordinator and a foster for United States Equine Rescue League in Northeast North Carolina and Tidewater Virginia Regions. She provided assistance, networked, solicited donations from many companies, and interviewed many individuals on the ground in Oklahoma.

Michele writes:
It was gut wrenching to hear Dan Mullinex's stories and it often brought tears in my eyes. I knew then I had to put it on paper and share it. I spoke to Dan Mullenix, Kevin Trimmell, Amanda Eggleston, and Dr. McCook. I learned from each of them a little piece of what they were doing so I put it all together in the story you have here.
Read Part II
Read Part III

By Michele De Vinney Schmoll

This is a story about a few wonderful individuals I have had the privilege to work with - heroes, making a difference in a small equestrian and farming community after tornadoes ripped through.
On Monday, May 20, 2013, tornadoes devastated Moore, Carney, Dale and other areas of Oklahoma.  The EF-5 tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma killing 24 people, damaging 13,000 homes and schools in the area. 
Everyone has seen the devastating photos of the area and some showed horses in the rubble.  However, not much was mentioned about the 600 or more livestock and horses that needed assistance. Over 200 horses were killed or euthanized because of extreme injuries.  Only about 38 horses survived. Veterinarians and volunteer responders were working almost 24 hours a day on the capture and care of the surviving horses and livestock.  

Dan Mullenix, co-founder and CEO of the newly formed, Oklahoma Livestock First Responders (OLFR) with co-founder Dr. Clayton McCook, DVM with Equine Sports Medicine & Surgery have had plenty of hurricane experience but nothing prepared them and their team for what they would encounter over the next few weeks.

Dan knew that this particular storm was going to be devastating when he saw the weather reports.  “I was sitting at home, after watching the weather. I had a gut feeling and told Abby (Janssen, fiancé and COO, OLFR), we need to hook up the trailer because this is going to be bad," he said.
"I called our team members Kim and Tim Lindsey, Allison Muzzicka and Amanda Eggleston.  We followed the tornado into town trying to get to one of farms that got hit badly. We couldn't get that far due to downed power lines so we sat waiting.
"All of a sudden there were people coming out of the dark and rubble cluttered area leading horses to us, we loaded the trailers and hauled to Dr. Wylie’s clinic, Equi-Center Veterinary Hospital, on the north side of Norman where we set up triage with the assistance of Dr. McCook. We unloaded horses washing off the mud via flashlight checking for injuries, treating and saving horses as best as we could.”

When Amanda Eggleston arrived at Celestial Acres, in Moore, she felt sick from seeing all the news images, praying some were saved because it was her hometown. 
She grew up showing horses, doing pony club activities and playing polo with many in the community.  When she arrived in Moore she sadly recalls:
“The only way I knew that I was at the Celestial Acres Training Facility was their gate.  I felt like I was punched in the stomach when I realized it was really gone.  It was one thing to see it on TV.  I felt like I was in a movie. I felt like this couldn’t possibly be real.  There was nothing left.”  


Part II - "Dangerous, deplorable conditions with debris everywhere..."
Read Part II
Read Part III

View Reader Comments:

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7/11/2013 Dr. Rebecca Gimenez
THANK YOU FOR THE STORY and PHOTOS! Maybe I will get a chance to meet them at a TLAER training someday.. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DID TO HELP!

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