AVMF makes disaster preparedness possible

Five state organizations benefit from grants
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AVMF logoThe American Veterinary Medical Foundation has awarded $85,000 in 2011 to five state or regional disaster organizations looking to enhance their disaster preparedness and response efforts. These matching grants are offered every year by the AVMF through its Animal Disaster Relief and Response Fund. The money can be used for expenses related to state training and training-related activities, medical supplies, and disaster response-related equipment. All five organizations have previously benefited from AVMF disaster grants. Here is an update on their activities and a look back on what they have achieved.

The Kansas State Animal Response Team first received a Foundation matching grant in 2009. The funding allowed it to build working county and regional teams throughout the state. Plus, the organization held tabletop training and leadership meetings and purchased veterinary disaster kits for use in the field.

KSART says it owes much of its success to the AVMF, yet it still has to develop a well-working statewide animal response network. Currently, the organization has slightly more than 25 percent of the state's counties covered by some type of animal response team.

Rescue training exercise
The Colorado Veterinary Medical Foundation supported a canine rescue training exercise in 2010 near the Denver International Airport.

"County and regional teams are small, independent organizations run solely by volunteers. They do not have access to the much-needed animal sheltering equipment," according to the organization's grant application.

KSART is in the process of acquiring sheltering equipment to use as a deployable resource in the event of an animal-related incident as well as transport equipment that would be housed in a central location. This year's $20,000 matching grant will help it procure several large tents with walls and flooring to house animals, climate-control systems for use in the tents, and generators, lighting, fencing, and caging systems.

The Louisiana State University Foundation requested funding from the AVMF for disaster response training for graduate veterinarians, veterinary students, animal control officers, first responders, emergency managers, and other animal care personnel.

A 50-hour technical training course, an introductory course, and two awareness-level courses will be given as part of the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine curriculum or as continuing education courses.

Rescue dog

Much of the AVMF $20,000 grant will go toward speakers and trainers, educational material, and training equipment and supplies in addition to funding a part-time technical-administrative assistant for the response team and training courses for a year.

In 2006 the AVMF funded Louisiana's first SART summit, which led to the beginning of the Louisiana State Animal Response Team. LSART continues to this day to lead state disaster mitigation activities.

The Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation is now fully recognized for its role in the Texas Emergency Management Plan. Statewide companion animal emergency response efforts and their coordination are now the recognized responsibilities of the foundation's Texas State Animal Resource Team.

In 2011, TXSART will take on new goals with potential for improving response and delivery of services during and immediately following animal disasters. With $20,000 in funding from the AVMF and other partners, "We will recruit, train, and position for deployment two animal emergency re-entry teams along the Texas Gulf Coast and we will upgrade and deploy a state-of-the-art mobile disaster response unit (truck and self-contained trailer) for actual response situation," according to TVMF's grant application.

For each of the past five years, TXSART has received matching grants from the AVMF, which remains the largest recurring TXSART benefactor since its beginning. With that funding, the organization has developed rapid-response capabilities, put on the state's annual Animals in Disasters Summit, and created the pamphlet "Because lives depend on it," which later was adopted by the state's Animal Health Commission and governor's office as their official pet preparedness guide.

The Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Foundation has received funding from the AVMF for the past three years and was awarded a $5,000 matching grant this year. The organization, which has been in existence 11 years, will use the money to work on long-term goals.

The OVMF will continue to put on disaster-related training, for example, in conjunction with the Ohio VMA annual convention, and support an Oklahoma task force's search dogs. The OVMF provides for the dogs' medical care as well as purchases needed logistic items for training and deployments.

Lastly, the foundation has been accumulating funds in recent years to build a response trailer. The trailer will have a veterinary treatment area and a large cargo capacity for field tents, cages, and other sheltering necessities. It will also have decontamination capabilities.

The Colorado Veterinary Medical Foundation received $20,000 in matching funds from the AVMF. The recent funding request will support recruitment and training of veterinary professionals in disaster preparedness on the Western Slope of the state with the Colorado Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps. Right now, most veterinary responders reside in the Front Range. The goal is to recruit and train 10 more veterinarians and 15 veterinary technicians.

The CVMF also is looking to educate Colorado's Medical Reserve Corps units and Community Emergency Response Teams about including veterinary professionals in their units and to build Community Animal Response Teams throughout the state.

But perhaps the nonprofit's most ambitious goal in 2011 is to develop a statewide plan that addresses the needs of the animal response community in meeting its technical capabilities.

In 2007, 2009, and 2010, the CVMF received AVMF funding, which has supported, among other things, training and credentialing of 45 veterinary and animal professionals in the Colorado VMRC; the development and implementation of two webinars; the Spanish translation, printing, and distribution of "Plan for Pets" and "Plan for Livestock" brochures; community meetings and technical assistance to build local capacity in all of Colorado's hazard regions; updating of the two veterinary medical caches in Colorado; and participation in Ready Colorado initiatives to ensure that animal issues are included.