By Tim Greet, BVMS, FRCVS, MVM, Cert EO, DESTS, Dipl. ECVS, and Siraya Chunekamrai, DVM, PhD

Members of the World Equine Veterinary Association (WEVA) gathered in Bangkok, Thailand, May 9-11 for the organization's 2011 intermediate meeting, which was held in concert with two mixed-practice veterinary meetings.

The meeting was held in conjunction with the Veterinary Practitioners Association of Thailand (VPAT) Regional Veterinary Conference and the Asian Meeting of Animal Medicine Specialties. The WEVA program was titled "Workshop for Equine Emergencies and Extreme Casualty Management," and covered a variety of topics in the field.

Tim Greet, BVMS, FRCVS, MVM, Cert EO, DESTS, Dipl. ECVS, WEVA president, and John E. Madigan, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, a professor at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, delivered presentations covering different aspects of equine emergency and casualty management under various conditions. They discussed the roles veterinarians play when faced with extreme situations such as natural disasters, barn fires, road accidents, and sports injuries.

The equine track was attended by more than 30 veterinary surgeons from around Asia; In addition to Thai practitioners there were a few attendees from Indonesia, Korea, Japan, and Singapore. Madigan lectured on practicing disaster medicine, giving examples from experience with equine rescue efforts in the United States and Greet presented about seven hours of lectures on various related surgical topics.

Both Greet and Madigan emphasized the importance of recruiting nonveterinary professionals for managing situations and of working with the press in high-profile rescues or accidents. Such high-profile situations present an opportunity for the veterinarian to champion animal welfare not only behind the scenes but also in the public eye.

The main take-home message for veterinarians from Madigan's presentations was that preparation is key. Being prepared for any eventuality with a trained staff and good prioritization are fundamental to successful rescues. He cautioned to never risk human lives to save an animal.

Greet said his key take-home messages included:

  • Most catastrophic injuries can be managed in a way that does not risk human injury nor compromise equine welfare;
  • It might not be possible to cure a severe injury during acute triage of orthopedic injury, but it is certainly possible to fatally damage a patient unless the rules of first aid are applied religiously;
  • There are still limitations to diagnosis, but modern imaging has dramatically improved that situation in the past decade or more;
  • Although orthopedic surgery has made great advances over the past 25 years, there are still many injuries in adult horses which are very difficult to manage; and
  • There is a logical way to work up an equine colic patient effectively, but cases not investigated promptly always have a poorer prognosis.

Additionally, Greet gave a presentation on WEVA's role in equine medicine worldwide, increasing awareness among Thai practitioners about ways they can become involved.

The International Presidents' Luncheon took place on May 10 and provided a networking opportunity for representatives of many Asian countries, including Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Singapore. These individuals sat with members of VPAT to discuss the best approach to integrating continuing education in Asia. Greet ensured that attendees were aware of this year's WEVA Congress, which will take place in Hyderabad, India, Nov. 2-6.

It was determined that the small animal track at the Congress might be a draw for delegates from all around Asia. Several of the people attending the intermediate meeting are involved with the World Small Animal Veterinary Association. There were over 1,000 delegates, the vast majority interested in small animal practice.

Greet believes firmly that WEVA must continue to focus on Asia. There is a significant gap in the facilities available and standards of equine treatment possible in some parts of the continent, when compared to those in the West. However, the willingness of young Asian veterinary surgeons to embrace new techniques and therapies, will, when allied to an expanding economy, ensure that this gap is gradually narrowed, and WEVA may be well-positioned to help in that transition.

Group Photo

The attendees gather for a group photo.

Live Horse Demo

The attendees take part in a live horse session.

Practice Session

The attendees practice what they learned on a model horse.

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