AVMA Veterinary First Responder Certificate Program

Disaster first responders

The AVMA Veterinary First Responder Certificate Program directs veterinarians and veterinary students to pre-evaluated courses on disaster and emergency response, verifying that participants satisfy all core competencies required to respond efficiently and effectively to disasters. Interested learners can get started on AVMA Axon.

The AVMA continues to expand the course directory by evaluating courses offered by veterinary institutions and other organizations to fulfill required skills of the program. Once confirmed to satisfy core competencies and corresponding sub-competencies, these courses can then be applied by individuals toward earning their AVMA Veterinary First Responder Certificate.

Submit your organization’s coursework for inclusion

You may apply for AVMA to evaluate your institution’s or organization’s course(s) for one or more of the eight core competencies outlined in the program. The submitted materials should demonstrate that the course satisfies all sub-competencies for any identified core competencies. Courses approved as satisfying a core competency will be considered part of the certificate program.

To apply, you’ll need to submit specific material to support your course articulation using this application. The AVMA will evaluate your course syllabi and/or course objectives only for the core competencies you identify. AVMA will not attempt to determine the core competencies for which a course should be approved—you must clearly identify the core competencies for which your institution or organization is applying.

If you have questions about this process, please email DisasterCertificateatavma [dot] org.

Download application

Core competencies

There are eight core competencies—each with sub-competencies—that must be satisfied in order to gain the certificate.

  1. Understands skills needed for personal and family preparedness for disasters and animal health emergencies.
  2. Understands one’s expected role(s) in organizational and community response plans activated during a disaster or animal health emergency.
  3. Has situational awareness of, and solutions to, actual/potential health concerns that may be encountered before, during, and after a disaster or animal health emergency.
  4. Recognizes potential impacts of various types of disasters and animal health emergencies on resources and how they impact animals along with potential solutions/workarounds to those impacts.
  5. Has knowledge of biosecurity and animal welfare principles that may be required in dealing with animals in disasters or animal health emergencies.
  6. Has knowledge of reporting and responding to zoonotic, transboundary, and foreign animal diseases (FADs) and how to mitigate potential impacts on human and environmental health (One Health).
  7. Has knowledge of euthanasia/depopulation techniques for various animal species and appropriate disposal options for animal carcasses (both small numbers and large numbers of carcasses) that may be required for animals in disasters or animal health emergencies.

Complete required FEMA online courses found at https://training.fema.gov/is.

See all competencies and sub-competencies


The AVMA Veterinary First Responder Certificate Program is made possible in part through educational funding from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF).