Melissa J. Nixon, DVM
You may wish to explore the following resources:
United States Animal Health Association Committee on Animal Emergency Management
Veterinary diseases reportable to the OIE
Connecticut list of reportable human diseases
VMAT - and VMAT (another source for VMAT)
Other topics to explore:
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Disaster Service Workers and animal evacuees
Initial treatment of burns, snakebite, smoke inhalation, equine colic, bloat, heatstroke, hypothermia, near-drowning, animal bites/scratches/kicks, dehydration, starvation, myoglobinuria, eye injuries and other likely disaster scene illnesses and injuries in human and veterinary patients
Zoonotic and cross-species diseases of interest in area of deployment such as: rabies, hanta virus, feline leprosy, bubonic plague, ascariasis, cerebrospinal nematodiasis, visceral larval migrans, cryptococcosis, coccidioidomycosis, ehrlichiosis, Q-fever, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, parrot fever, anthrax, leptospirosis
Lyme Disease, parvo, WNV, heartworm, giardiasis, hookworm, pigeon fever, BVD, bluetongue, Anaplasmosis, distemper, calicivirus, grass tetany, selenium deficiency, Trichomoniasis or other diseases endemic to the area
Dangerous or poisonous plants, reptiles, amphibians, predators such as cougar or bear, insects, and chemicals in the area of deployment
Vaccination protocols for owned and unowned animals in a disaster setting
Vaccination recommendations for Disaster Service Workers
Medical waste management
Disposal of carcasses
Handling of kennel and barn waste
Drug withdrawal times in food animals
Prohibited species in state of deployment (i.e., ferrets in California)
Exotic species regulations (under Department of Fish and Game in California)
Wildlife rehabilitation facilities near area of deployment
State requirements to treat wildlife or exotic pets
Related programs at veterinary and medical schools in the state of deployment
Veterinary crewmembers should be DVMs and RVTs licensed in the state of deployment. At least two veterinarians should have federal accreditation; at least two veterinarians should hold current DEA licensure.
An MD, an RN, or an EMT should direct human first aid crew; crewmembers should have completed appropriate Red Cross first aid and CPR classes with current certification.
It will be your responsibility to prepare, stockpile, properly rotate, and restock medical supplies for your teams. It is also wise to establish relationships with professional colleagues located out of the local area you plan to serve; these colleagues are absolutely invaluable in helping get additional supplies to you during the first response period of a disaster incident.
Professional colleagues may also be quite helpful by donating used medical equipment such as surgical instruments, laboratory essentials, stomach tubes, autoclaves and otoscopes. This is especially true if your ARG has 501C status and can offer a tax write-off for the value of the donated item.
Spend the time to visit local colleagues, join the local VMA or medical association, and build those professional bridges ahead of time. It pays off to know which colleagues are willing to hospitalize a few evacuees in need of medical care, board aggressive dogs, take in exotics in need of specialized attention, or co-train with your ARG to provide relief for your crews in extended disasters. For the human first aid crew, be sure you are familiar with the county plan for medical triage and have appropriate status to refer anyone presented for first aid who needs more advanced care.
Check with your state VMA or MA to see if they have a disaster response committee; if so, consider joining. If they keep a mutual aid roster of veterinarians or physicians interested in being second responders in a disaster, consider signing up.
If the opportunity arises to have a joint training session with a VMAT or DMAT, absolutely take advantage of it!
If you are deployed to another state where you do not hold a current professional license, be sure to check on the specifics of temporary licensing in that state before volunteering to practice. Just because it is a disaster does not mean that usual licensing regulations are suspended. Be certain to take your pocket license and a photo ID with you. This is another area where regulations are likely to be tightened after Hurricane Katrina, when there were documented instances of lay people taking advantage of the confusion to pass themselves off as licensed healthcare practitioners.