Georgia DVMs prepare for everything, even human medicine

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Athens, Ga. -- When disaster strikes, veterinarians in Georgia will respond and not just to help animals.

Athens, Ga.

-- When disaster strikes, veterinarians in Georgia will respond and not just to help animals.

As part of a "one medicine" concept for all disasters veterinarians are being trained to interact with emergency personnel and other professionals to treat human patients in times of disaster.

Training is taking place at the University of Georgia in Athens and involves basic disaster life support and triage in times of natural disaster, chemical events, nuclear and radiologic events or biological terrorism.

In extreme cases, veterinarians could be called upon to suture wounds, administer vaccinations and perform other health-care procedures. Primarily, they will be called upon to take part in pharmaceutical procedures.

Veterinarians and veterinary technicians voluntarily participate in the program, meant to bolster the number of trained health care personnel who might be needed in a large-scale emergency.

"Animal health and welfare is linked to human health, so the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association (GVMA) is an important partner in public health issues such as emergency preparedness," says Dr. Kevin Chapman, DVM.

So far, 85 veterinarians, veterinary technicians and human medicine physicians have received training.

Those completing the course receive an American Medical Association Basic Disaster Life Support Training certificate and are credited with 11 hours of continuing education.

The training is supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and is sponsored by the GVMA, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and the Institute for Health Management and Mass Destruction.

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