Least Resistance Training Concepts

Volunteers Training for Emergencies

  LRTC Technical Large Animal Rescue Team

Nikopoulos Needle and Jetting Wands

Updated February 24, 2023

This information sheet is primarily intended for persons associated with or working with the LRTC Technical Large Animal Rescue Team, however the information may be useful to other groups or private individuals who may wish to similarly equip a support unit or who may need to utilize the resources available on LRTC's Portable Water Supply Unit and from the Nevada Division of Emergency Management.

Bogged Horses

One of the most significant issues involving large animals that are trapped in boggy ground involves the suction that is created when attempting to lift the animals free. This suction can be so significant that it can permanently debilitate the animal and it can also destabilize the lifting apparatus. Trying to dig the animal's legs free can serve to destabilize the area where the animal is bogged and cause it to sink further.

While it may seem counter-intuitive to add water to an already saturated situation, injecting water alongside the horse's hooves can resolve the suction issue. Similarly air can be injected for the same purpose.

This procedure guide addresses the deployment of the Nikopoulos needle and jetting wands to free a large bogged animal. Information relating to the overall techniques in freeing a large bogged animal can be viewed at Rescuing a Bogged or Trapped Horse.

  Nikopoulos Needle Procedures

The Nikopoulos needle is a large U-shaped length of 1-inch galvanized pipe with a T-handle. The needle has a ring welded to its tip for attaching lifting straps. It has several holes drilled into the sides for water discharge. One side of the T-handle has a garden hose connection.

The overall concept is that the Nikopoulos needle can be inserted under a large animal that is bogged or trapped in soft, unstable ground and the tip will come out the other side. A lifting strap can be attached to the tip and the needle drawn back to the rescuer's side, pulling the strap under the horse. The application of water produces a low pressure jet and water cushion that helps facilitate pushing the wand through earthen material. The water also helps "lubricate" the path of the lifting strap.

Inserting the Nikopoulos needle.
Procedures. (A horse is used as an example.)

  1. Extend a water supply line to the bog site.

  2. Attach a garden hose thread adapter if needed.

  3. Attach the Nikopoulos needle to the water supply line.

  4. Turn on the water supply.

  5. Carefully push the Nikopoulos needle under the horse's abdomen until the tip appears on the far side.

  6. Attach the lifting strap to the Nikopoulos needle with a suitable piece of cord.

  7. Withdraw the Nikopoulos needle with the lifting strap attached, making sure that any D-rings on the strap are facing away from the horse.

  8. Repeat the procedure under the horse's rib cage, starting the Nikopoulos needle in a more vertical orientation in order to get below the horse's deeper rib cage.
More vertical placement needed at rib cage.
Another perspective.
  Jetting Wand Procedures

Jetting wands are 5-foot lengths of inch galvanized pipe with shutoff valves and markings indicating each foot of depth. They are designed to operate from garden hoses, although they can be adapted to operate from a portable air supply. Their purpose is to inject low pressure water or air next to the bogged animal's legs in order to relieve suction and facilitate lifting.

Procedures. (A horse is used as an example.)

  1. Extend a water supply line to the bogged horse.

  2. Attach a garden hose adapter if needed.

  3. Attach the 1 to 4 manifold to the water supply.

  4. Attach four 25 foot garden hoses to the manifold.

  5. Attach a jetting wand to each garden hose.

  6. Make sure that the valves on each wand are turned off, and that the valves on the manifold are turned on.

  7. Turn on the water to a wand. Insert the wand alongside one leg of the horse to the approximate depth of the horse's hoof.

  8. Once in position, have the person operating the manifold turn off the water to the wand. (Leave the valve on the wand turned on.)

  9. Repeat for the other three legs. (Note: Supplying only one wand at a time during the insertion process will increase pressure while jetting down to the horse's hoof and will minimize water accumulation.)

  10. Just before the horse is to be lifted, the manifold operator shall turn on all four valves supplying the wands and the low pressure water will usually be sufficient to resolve any suction issues.
Inserting jetting wands.
View of the 1 to 4 manifold.

Note: As the horse is being lifted one or two jetting wands on the opposite side of the horse from the water supply may need to be removed from the horse using pole hooks.

Removing a jetting wand.

Use in actual rescues.

Letting wands are stored against the sidewall of the driver's side cabinets, with the Nicopoulos needle stored
forward of the hose reel on the top of the tank on Tactical Support 1.

Continue to Supplying Jetting Wands with Air

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The training information presented in these information sheets and guides is offered for illustrative and volunteer refresher purposes only. It is not a substitute for actual hands-on training.

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