August 15, 2018

Disasters Happen, Be Prepared!
Disasters can and will happen anytime and anywhere. The nation is currently experiencing wildfires in the west and the outlook is that they will continue into November. Hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin peaks for eight weeks beginning in mid-August and continuing through October. In the last 20 years, 60 of the 81 named tropical systems have developed in the Atlantic. The heat we've seen across the nation this summer is setting records in many cities and states and follows on the heels of our four warmest years on record (2012, 2015, 2016, and 2017). National Preparedness Month (NPM), observed annually in September, is an opportune time for individuals, families, organizations, workplaces, and schools to review, update, and/or create emergency preparedness plans.
This year's overall theme is Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How. and there are weekly themes that highlight different preparedness actions:
  • September 1-8: Make and Practice Your Plan 
  • September 9-15: Learn Life Saving Skills 
  • September 15: National Day of Action
  • September 16-22: Check Your Insurance Coverage 
  • September 23-29: Save For an Emergency  
The NPM website offers web resources and social media content for each weekly theme as well as graphics, videos, free and downloadable publications, preparedness tips, and a multilingual webpage with access to disaster preparedness information in 12 languages. Ready, a national public service campaign supporting NPM, also created social media preparedness toolkits that offer safety messaging on floods, severe weather, wildfires, extreme heat, and other types of disasters.
It's important to make sure your emergency plan covers all the needs of you, your family, or those in your community. Consider people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs as medical facilities or drugstores may not be open in a hurricane, snowstorm, or other disaster. Plans should also have special considerations for service animals, emotional support animals, and pets. You can read more on these planning considerations in our previous Weekly Snapshot articles " National Pet Preparedness Month " and " Planning for Students and Staff with Disabilities or AFN " or on the Ready campaign's Individuals with Disabilities and Pets and Animals web pages.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also provides access to disaster-specific resources, as well as general preparedness and response information, through their Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series. Topics covered include natural (e.g., drought, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornados) and human-caused (e.g., mass violence, terrorism, technological) disasters. Users can search for resources by audience; issues, conditions, and disorders; population groups; professional and research topics; and treatment, prevention, and recovery. The resources listed are from a variety of organizations, agencies, and associations; cover a broad array of disaster-related topics such as emotional and physical well-being, preparedness, response, and recovery; and provide materials such as tip sheets, checklists, websites, and guides.

College Veterinary Response Teams
In any disaster, one often under-reported category of victims are animals. In more recent years, animals have started to receive more coverage as mass casualties due to flooding, hurricanes, and wildfires reach national headlines. Nonprofit organizations, such as The Humane Society of the United States, are typically interviewed but there are other important college- and university-based teams providing on-the-ground veterinarian support that have not had their voices heard. Several of these teams exist across the country at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine (UF CVM), Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (TAMU), and University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine (UC Davis).
UF CVM is a lead member of the Florida State Agriculture Response Team. As such, UF CVM has been tasked with assisting the state in response to animal and agricultural disasters whenever an emergency has been officially declared by the state or federal government. The team is also deployable to states as far away as Texas and Virginia through EMAC (Emergency Management Assistance Compact). To respond to this task, UF CVM created the Veterinary Emergency Treatment Service (VETS). The VETS team is able to give assistance in- and out-of-state during a disaster. This includes providing assessment or logistics support configurations; large and small animal technical rescue teams; deployable field hospitals; and animal transport for emergency evacuations.
The Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) at TAMU's motto is "Serving our state and nation every day." VET works to live up to their motto by deploying the largest and most sophisticated (in terms of breadth and depth) veterinary medical disaster response team in the country; developing and providing the most advanced emergency management education; using research to develop new knowledge in emergency preparedness education and response; and providing service through excellent support for search and rescue dogs as well as mounted search and rescue units.
The UC Davis Veterinary Emergency Response Team (VERT) is a volunteer group lead by a core of four faculty and staff with extensive experience in animal rescue and disaster medicine. VERT's primary role is training. The group provides seminars and workshops on disaster preparedness and response, and rescue methods to individuals and agencies involved with animals. VERT's research component involves science-based studies to develop protocols for integrated emergency and disaster response; development of equipment used in rescue; and the creation of local and national guidelines for care of animals in emergencies and disasters.  UC Davis also has a VERT Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), a separate entity comprised of faculty, students, and staff who are interested in learning hands-on skills and providing limited service for local animal emergency response and disaster management when requested by government services. Members of VERT MRC receive training in the Incident Command System and National Incident Management System, animal sheltering, disaster medicine, and evacuation methods and can become registered Disaster Service Workers
For more specific information on animal sheltering, animal evacuation plans, or trainings, please visit the individual websites of the teams mentioned above.

Professional Development Opportunities
Title:  Clery Today: Ongoing Disclosures
Organization: Clery Center
Date: August 20, 2018 at 2:00 PM ET
Location: Online
Fee: Free for members
Title: Social Media Tools and Techniques (PER-344)
Organization: National Disaster Preparedness Training Center
Date: September 20, 2018
Location: Honolulu, HI
Fee: Free
Title: Evacuation and Emergency Planning (OSHA #7105)
Organization: National Safety Education Center
Dates and Locations:
  • September 21, 2018 in Hillside, IL
  • October 25, 2018 in Chippewa Falls, WI
  • Additional dates and locations available
Fee: Registration fee

For additional trainings and events, access our searchable online calendar

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This project was supported by Grant No. 2013-MU-BX-K011 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the US Department of Justice.
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