Be ready to help in a disaster: Become a veterinary first responder

Published on September 01, 2022
Disaster first responders

Plus more ways to observe National Preparedness Month


When an emergency or disaster strikes, veterinarians are often among the first people who jump to help. If you’ve ever wanted to lend a hand in a disaster situation, you can lean on the AVMA’s Veterinary First Responder Certificate Program to ensure that you’re prepared to do so efficiently and effectively.

The first responder certificate program gives you a framework to verify – for both yourself and emergency management officials – that you have the knowledge and skills to serve as a veterinary first responder. The program outlines core competencies needed by first responders, along with approved training programs that satisfy those requirements, and awards a certificate when you’ve completed needed training to achieve all of those requirements.

Here’s how it works:

  • Participants complete a selection of pre-approved courses and educational materials to satisfy the competencies. Not all of this coursework occurs on AVMA Axon, although some can.
  • After completing a course, participants submit proof of completion to satisfy the training requirement for the corresponding core competencies.
  • Once all competencies have been satisfied, they receive an AVMA veterinary first responder certificate of completion and are included in an AVMA registry of certified veterinary first responders.

If you're unable to complete the whole program due to availability of courses, complete what you can and watch for further announcements. More courses are being added all the time.

The program is free for AVMA and Student AVMA (SAVMA) members and costs $75 for nonmembers. Learn more and get started.

Emergency planning resources for practices and clients

September is National Preparedness Month – the perfect time to ensure our homes, businesses, colleagues, and loved ones are prepared for any emergency. Becoming a veterinary first responder is just one of the many ways you can prepare. AVMA has a whole library of disaster preparedness resources and information available on our website at It includes the following and more:

AVMA also has information for you to share with clients to encourage them to be prepared:

Planning ahead helps to limit the impact of disaster if and when it strikes. Preparing for the unexpected can save lives and protect our businesses, our colleagues, our clients, and our patients. So how will you be celebrating National Preparedness Month?


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