Certificate Program To Assist Vets, Local Authorities During Disasters

Veterinarians rely heavily on first responders during national disasters, where hundreds or thousands of animals can be impacted. There is no training offered to vets for emergency planning or response at the local level; the vets often must rely solely on emergency management, extension agents and animal control officers to put a plan of action in place

Vets who volunteer as part of a local or regional disaster response team are often are frustrated with their inability to help immediately upon arrival. To streamline the process and build on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) legacy in disaster relief, a certificate program for veterinary first responders is being created.

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation will provide $80,000 in funding for the program. The AVMA Committee on Disaster and Emergency Issues (CDEI) will identify competencies every vet responder should have. From there, organizations, including the AVMA and veterinary schools, can develop new or modify existing courses to satisfy one or more of the core competencies required for certificate completion.

The program will be overseen by Dr. Warren J. Hess, an assistant director in the AVMA Division of Animal and Public Health, who also serves as the AVMA’s disaster coordinator. Hess noted that some vet schools are already providing disaster response training.

The program is expected to be fully operational by Spring 2022. Once a veterinarian or vet student completes courses that meet all core competencies, they will be issued the Basic Veterinary Responder Certificate. This certificate will reassure state and local agencies that the vets providing assistance at the scene of a disaster have the education and training required to work well within the response network.

Read more at AVMA.

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