State animal response teams focus of new initiative
At the AVMA Annual Convention in Denver, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation Board of Directors approved the largest single fund-raising effort in its history to support statewide animal disaster preparedness and response teams.
The Board of Directors approved a three-year, $6.5 million plan to help make every state ready for animal disasters by the end of the decade. The board set a goal to assist at least 18 states by the end of 2006.
"This initiative is a major step toward the Foundation becoming a national leader in animal disaster preparedness and response," said AVMF chair Dr. Robert Gordon. Dr. Gordon said the Foundation will focus on program planning and securing the necessary funds through the end of 2003 so the initiative can be launched in early 2004.
The AVMF's animal disaster work began in 1994 when the Foundation funded national Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams, established to deploy within 24 hours in response to federally declared disasters. Since 1994, VMATs have been deployed 23 times—most notably in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and to Hurricane Floyd in North Carolina in 1999.
In early 2003, the AVMF board approved a partnership with the North Carolina State Animal Response Team to provide training, technical assistance, support, and development of a SART model for state-by-state implementation. The SART model fosters multiagency/organization cooperation to manage response mechanisms statewide, by region and county by county.
In April, Colorado participated in a planning session with SART organizers and became the first state outside North Carolina to adopt SART. What Colorado needed— and what AVMF delivered—was the catalyst event that brought together a wide array of agencies and individuals in order to create a sense of common commitment to emergency issues, rather than views of segmented ownership," said Ralph Johnson, executive director of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association. "In only two months, Colorado has gone from 'talking about it' to implementing a tangible action plan."
The Foundation expects to release more information about state qualifications this fall, once ongoing state risk and readiness assessment is completed.
Those interested in supporting the AVMF's effort or in more information are asked to contact the AVMF at (800) 248-2862, Ext. 6689, or are encouraged to give online at www.avmf.org.