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Providing Prevention Response & Recovery for Animal Emergencies

VETERINARY MRC

Urban Area Security Initiative Goal: Expand Public Health & Medical Response Capability Investment Justification to Create a Veterinary Component of the CRMRC

Arnold L. Goldman DVM, MS, Chairman R-ESF-11 Region 3

Project History:

The Capitol Region Emergency Planning Committee has previously tasked the Regional ESF 11 (R-ESF 11) subcommittee with creating the planning strategy and operational capability to temporarily shelter household pets evacuated coincident with their citizen owners when displaced by regional disasters. To date, R3-ESF 11 has completed the creation of the tasked response capacity, which now exists as a mobile equipment cache and a cadre of CERT trained volunteers prepared to deploy upon official request. The equipment cache is adequate to temporarily shelter up to 750 animals under field conditions, theoretically in any weather. To wit, a freestanding fabric-and-steel shelter is part of the cache. Thus, as pertains to the original mission of R-ESF 11 as was narrowly defined, the R3-ESF 11 response capability is a completed project.

Investment Justification-Introduction:

As with mass care for people, it is not unreasonable to expect that during a disaster evacuated animals will arrive with their owners at public shelter facilities in varying degrees of ill health. Injuries sustained during the evolution of the disaster itself, during subsequent response activities or pre-existing medical issues may all exist in animal patients presented along with their civilian owners during an evacuation. This eventuality has been previously identified during a R-ESF 11 SWOT analysis as a service gap in need of remediation. Further, most owners of household pets consider their animals to be family members and are deeply invested emotionally in the welfare of their animals. The public thus expects public safety and public health officials acting during a disaster to provide health care not just for citizens and their families, but also for their animal "family members." Mitigation of the current inability to provide on-scene triage veterinary medical care during an evacuation is therefore a priority in fulfilling the goal of more completely serving the evacuating publics health and welfare needs.

Investment Justification-Expansion:

As R-ESF 8 is tasked with addressing the medical and public health aspects of disaster response, the development of the capability to provide on-scene triage veterinary medical care, should be considered within this context.

The Medical Reserve Corps program is conceived such that trained personnel are available to respond to emergencies requiring support to the community’s health and medical resources. This support is not limited in terms of which health professionals may participate and thus veterinarians may be included, both in public health roles as subject matter experts with respect to zoonotic infectious disease and as medical practitioners capable of serving in their licensed clinical roles.

One Region 3 UASI goal is to "expand public health & medical response capabilities." Objective 2 under this goal is to "expand the medical response capability of the Capitol Region Medical Reserve Corps (CRMRC)." The strategy to be implemented to accomplish this objective is to acquire an inventory of durable goods and non-perishable supplies to support the field operations of the CRMRC. If we further define the CRMRC to include a veterinary component, then it follows that such durable goods and non-perishable supplies must include materials adequate to allow for the provision of on-scene triage veterinary medical care.

The first step identified as required to implement this objective include the identification and enlistment of subject matter experts, in this case, veterinarians. This step is already completed, as the Region 3 Regional Emergency Planning Team (REPT) already has three veterinarians engaged, and the direct support of the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association, giving access to additional professionals as the program develops.

The implementation steps necessary to accomplish this expanded CRMRC veterinary role include acquiring inventory securely stored and available for distribution, creating a CRMRC veterinary operational plan and approvals for its use and recruitment and training of appropriate CRMRC veterinary personnel.

Funding

The provision of on-scene triage veterinary medical care will require sufficient durable equipment to provide medical and surgical support for veterinary patients co-located with the shelter of those patients. Additionally, the recruitment, training and retention of veterinarians, veterinary technicians and additional support personnel will be required. It is anticipated that a moderate investment will allow the acquisition of veterinary specific medical equipment and supplies and support recruitment and training of the aforementioned personnel.

Conclusion:

The development of a veterinary component to the CRMRC will fulfill a vital and presently unfilled role in the overall R-ESF 8 mission spectrum. The first step towards accomplishment requires a commitment to acquire equipment and supplies adequate to provide on-scene triage veterinary medical care to the household pets arriving at mass care facilities with evacuating citizens. This proposal provides a justification for the expanded veterinary role of the CRMRC and the acquisition of equipment necessary to accomplish that mission.