When disaster strikes
A comprehensive special report on the role of DVMs in disasters
2011: It's a year to remember. Not only does it rank as veterinary medicine's 250th anniversary, it's also the 10-year anniversary of 9/11. Over the course of this series, DVM Newsmagazine, dvm360.com and CVC Washington, D.C. investigate veterinarians' unique role when facing and responding to natural and man-made disasters.
And while the 2001 terrorist strike on the World Trade Center in New York City was the event that triggered a decade of construction on disaster contingency plans, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 brought pet rescue to the center stage. The series culminates with a special presentation and exhibit hall display this weekend at CVC Washington, D.C. honoring veterinarians and their response to natural and man-made disasters.
Marie McCabe, a veterinarian and a first-responder as a part of the Veterinary Medical Assistance Team (VMAT) sent to Ground Zero in the days after 9/11, didn't know if she would make it out alive. She was face-to-face with the terrorist attack in the rubble of the World Trade Center, and she still suffers the effects of the devastation. The 10-year anniversary is resurrecting many of those buried memories.
They combed through more than a million tons of hazardous debris covering 16 acres with nothing more than a nose to the ground in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. A decade later, about a third of the search-and-rescue dogs remain—most showing little evidence of ill health despite the prolonged exposure to toxic fumes from the pile.
Re-emergence of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) on American farms may be inevitable, reports a public health expert. Large-scale farming operations, unrestricted animal movement and a shortage of public health and large-animal veterinarians could be creating a perfect storm.
Little was or could be done to control infectious diseases endemic to the Gulf Coast when Hurricane Katrina made landfall in August 2005. In the weeks that followed, rescue organizations and well-intentioned individuals came to the aid of an estimated 600,000 animals, scattering them across the country with little to no documentation or veterinary care. A new study examines what effect their movement had across the country.
Devastating fires don't discriminate and no practice is safe. Read what practice owners who have lost it all have to say about their experience and how they moved on.
Destroyed by an earthquake in January 2010, Haiti is still struggling to recover. But veterinarians like Dr. Lee Ann Berglund-Fosdick are working to help the island nation recover and prosper.
Crossing your fingers and hoping it never happens to you is not an effective disaster management plan. Dr. Jill Burgess, owner of the Animal Hospital of West Nashville, hopes her story will convince other practice owners that disaster preparedness is key.
Even if veterinarians are not ready to invest in the necessary training to help in a response following the next hurricane, disaster planning for a veterinary practice makes good medical and business sense. Veterinary practices are at risk, and it is very likely DVMs could be asked to respond to smaller-scale emergencies locally.
Whether a veterinarian has helped animals impacted by disaster or lost it all in a catastrophe, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) has several resources at the DVM's disposal.