Updates in disaster, technical rescue efforts

The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine is a leader in disaster response efforts in the state of Florida and beyond. Here is an update of some recent developments:

• The Florida State Agricultural Response Team held its monthly planning meeting at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine on Jan. 7. During the meeting, it was announced that college director John Haven’s proposal for $25,000 to support a decontamination technique research project had been approved. Haven said that Dr. Cynda Crawford, Maddie’s assistant professor of shelter medicine, and Dr. Matt Winter, a clinical assistant professor of radiology,would also participate in the project, which will involve identifying a good way of decontaminating a dog after exposure to radiation from a nuclear power plant incident. This is a project of national interest.

• On Jan. 10, Haven, Josh Fleming and David John, all members of UF’s Veterinary Emergency Treatment Services disaster response and technical rescue team, received their senior Rope Rescue instructor certification.

“Combined with our Confined Space and Swift Water rescue training, this additional training certification makes our team one of the most, if not the most, highly trained animal technical rescue teams in the country,” Haven said. “Not only can we rescue the animals, but we are trained and equipped to rescue the rider or another team member in the event they get hurt or impaired rescuing the animal.”

• The National Fire Protection Association Committee on Search and Technical Rescue standards (NFPA 1670), just released its new 2014 publication, which is revised every five years. It has a new chapter about animal technical rescue – large and small. UF’s Haven co-chaired the task-group of the committee developing the new chapter, and coordinated the writing of the chapter with subject matter experts from around the country. Among the contributors to the chapter were the Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (TLAER) Inc and Dr. John Madigan of UC Davis CVM.

“This is a huge step forward in recognizing the human animal bond connection, and that people will not leave their animals in a disaster,” Haven said, adding that the inclusion of the chapter was an acknowledgment that people will risk their lives to save their animals, and that the fire rescue community agrees it needs to be better prepared to step in and assist before a human is injured as well.

• On Jan. 23, Haven spoke at the Florida Fire Chief’s Association to discuss the implementation of the above-mentioned chapter in training and preparing fire departments around the state to assist in animal technical rescue efforts. Haven partnered with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in writing the only Operations Level Department of Homeland Security approved course for animal technical rescue.

• In April, Haven will conduct a statewide exercise for hurricane preparedness. This exercise will include almost 100 people from the UF veterinary college, the state Department of Emergency Management, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Florida State Veterinarian’s office, Florida Veterinary Medical Association’s Vet Corps, several county animal control agencies from around the state and other NGO rescue groups. The exercise includes an overnight camping/deployment, plan reviews, setting up a temporary shelter, walking through animal intake, decontamination, medical evaluation, tracking through the chain of custody of the animal, and returning the pet to the owner, Haven said.

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March 2014

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