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Pilot Courses Train First Responders to Handle Livestock Emergencies

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At the institute's training session August 24, first responders learned to use a lift and a skid (under horse) to move injured animals to safety.


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Dr. Eric Davis of IAWTI familiarizes emergency responders with different types of "darts" used to deliver drugs that immobilize loose or injured animals.

August 29, 2011

A horse trapped in a canyon; a bull escaped from its pasture; a wild animal injured by a car – these and other incidents pose dangers to animals and people. When emergency personnel arrive on the scene, will they be prepared to help while protecting the safety of their crews and members of the public?

In conjunction with the California Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, members of the International Animal Welfare Training Institute presented two training sessions August 24 and 25 to prepare first responders to address such incidents with an eye toward public safety and animal welfare.

“First Responder Guidelines to Equine Emergencies” introduced first responders to the safest measures when dealing with down, injured, trapped and loose horses. IAWTI members covered communications protocols, equine behavior, restraint and lifts. Participants learned about the Incident Command System, which establishes responsibilities and communications channels when multiple organizations respond to an emergency. At practice stations at the teaching hospital, participants received one-on-one instruction to learn procedures such as haltering a horse to guide it away from danger and using “skids” or other equipment to help move an animal. 

“Loose Livestock, Injured Wildlife and Emergency Animal Euthanasia” focused on the safest measures of dealing with loose or downed livestock and trapped or injured wildlife. First responders learned how to approach livestock or wildlife; capture and immobilize animals; protect personal safety; perform suitable methods of humane euthanasia; and understand laws related to disposal of euthanized animals. At one demonstration station, course members familiarized themselves with different types of darting equipment used to tranquilize an animal.

About 20 emergency responders participated in the two sessions; the group included police officers, fire fighters, animal services personnel, disaster response personnel and others with or without previous animal handling experience.

The August classes followed two other courses held in July. One more session is planned to teach the veterinary aspects of sheltering animals in emergencies.

John Madigan, director of the International Animal Welfare Training Institute, says, “Faculty and IAWTI staff developed these protocols based on veterinary rescue expertise and protocols developed for clinical settings." He adds, "The Department of Homeland Security funded the pilot projects with an eye toward future levels of training. If the series is approved, future courses would emphasize ‘train the trainer’ sessions for emergency personnel throughout the country.”

About CalEMA

The California Emergency Management Agency is responsible for the coordination of overall state agency response to major disasters in support of local government. The agency is responsible for assuring the state’s readiness to respond to and recover from all hazards –natural, manmade, war-caused emergencies and disasters – and for assisting local governments in their emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and hazard mitigation efforts.

About the Institute

The UC Davis International Animal Welfare Training Institute aims to educate and prepare veterinary students, community volunteers, agency representatives, and emergency responders in the humane treatment of animals during emergency or disaster situations.