LSU Veterinary School and LSART to Host Large Animal Rescue Boot Camp

The Louisiana State University (LSU) School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) and the Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART) are holding training activities this spring that include an introductory course for veterinary students and a more intensive large animal boot camp training from May 9-13 for veterinary students, animal control officials, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and other animal care personnel. The LSART/LSU partnership has trained more than 750 veterinary students, veterinarians, first responders, and animal care personnel since 2005.

Thirty-five students enrolled in this year's LSART large animal "Boot Camp" will participate in a five-day hands-on training course held at the LSU SVM and the LSU Fire and Emergency Training Institute (FETI). The training team includes instructors from the LSU SVM, the LSU Ag Center, FETI, LSART, the Texas State Animal Resource Team, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Since 2001, the LSU SVM's animal disaster response and training team (comprised of faculty, staff, and students) has been responding to local and state emergencies in varying capacities. "When the horrific 2005 storm season sent a major wake-up call to the nation demanding improved human and animal response capacities, the LSU SVM team responded by partnering and combining resources with LSART, expanding more formalized training for veterinarians, veterinary students, emergency responders, animal control officers, and other animal care personnel," said Rebecca S. McConnico, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, assistant professor of equine medicine in Louisiana State University's Equine Health Studies Program and LSART member. "Local, state, and national resources joined with LSART/LSU team in an effort to expand the response force and veterinary training curriculum to include this vital component, further strengthening disaster response in Louisiana and surrounding regions."

The LSART/LSU team has a specialized disaster response mobile command center equipped with satellite equipment, portable corrals and stalls, kenneling materials, utility trailer containing technical rescue equipment, and a large animal training dummy. While deployed, the team is able to perform assessments of animals and triage the injured. They are able to assess the environment for safe water and food supplies for stranded livestock and pets, evaluate food and nutrition needs and develop ways to stabilize injured animals, get them to safety and shelter, and manage and staff small and large animal shelters and field hospitals.

The LSART/LSU Small and Large Animal Disaster Response and Training Team is ready and waiting to respond to the upcoming 2011 storm season or other animal emergencies as needed. Over the past six years, the team has been able to acquire special equipment and the expertise required for responses of varying types and capacities and has continued to build the infrastructure needed for a functional emergency response support team, including credentialed veterinarians trained in infectious disease outbreaks and control, public health related issues, and events such as trailer accidents, hurricanes, chemical spills, and animal disease outbreaks.

The LSART/LSU disaster response team dedicates themselves to being available to provide needed aid during a disaster, and continue to use these experiential opportunities as a teaching tool for present and future veterinarians and other animal care personnel. Hurricanes Ivan, Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike, the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill, presently the Mississippi River flooding in Tennessee (May 2011), and smaller scale rescues including vehicular accidents and flood rescues make up the list of responses since the group was formalized in 2005.

For more information about the LSART/LSU team and the boot camp, please go to lsart.org.

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