Changes in the Federal government policy have lead to the creation of two separate & complementary Veterinary Disaster Response Team programs: the Federal National Veterinary Response Team and the AVMA's Veterinary Medicine Assistance Team (VMAT) program. The AVMA Executive Board has approved this new state-focused program and the AVMF Board of Directors has approved a grant to fund it.
Upon request by a state, VMAT will provide operational emergency response and preparedness programs to that state's animal health authorities, veterinary medical associations, and other relevant organizations.
This program was developed through research and discussion with animal emergency management decision makers in multiple states. The program described below is being created based on their needs. Success of this new AVMA VMAT program hinges on pre- disaster agreements with key decision makers within the state emergency management system. Several states have already expressed a desire to create agreements with this evolving program.
The following three functions have been identified by states as services they are most likely to request. While it is anticipated the program will evolve beyond these functions, this is where the program will start.
Early Assessment Volunteer Teams:4-6 person teams, self sufficient and available upon request from the appropriate state authority. Deployments are 72 hours not including travel time. Teams will focus on assessing veterinary conditions & infrastructure, and gather verifiable data to enable state deployment of appropriate state resources.
Basic Treatment Volunteer Teams:4-6 person teams, self sufficient and available upon request by the appropriate state authority. Deployments are 72 hours not including travel time. Teams provide primary field care to augment overwhelmed local capabilities, which could include establishment of a base-of-operations as a field staging area for state-based veterinary triage and veterinary medical care of displaced animals.
Training:Provide emergency-related training to state veterinary associations, professionals and colleges. Topics for 1-2 day training courses include: animal decontamination, disaster veterinary medicine and triage, hazmat awareness for veterinarians, critical incident stress management, leadership, risk communication, occupational safety. Training programs to start as a lecture format, developing into field exercises later.