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Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Ready to Respond
The first hurricane of the 2010 hurricane season, Hurricane
Alex, put many Texas agencies on alert. Texas Task Force-1
was activated and deployed to respond to anticipated flooding
condition in South Texas. Ready and waiting should they be
needed was the Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) from the Texas
A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical
Knowing that Brazos County was going to be a designated
evacuation hub for hurricane threats and eager to find a solution
where experts in animal welfare could respond in the event of a
disaster, talks were initiated shortly after Hurricane Rita between
the college and the Emergency Response staff of Brazos
To respond in an emergency, the team has acquired special
equipment and the funds to not only purchase this equipment, but
also to support the team. Funds were requested and received
from the Texas Division of Emergency Management and other sources,
and have immediately been used to build the necessary
infrastructure for the emergency response teams.
"Once we knew that we were going to be able to develop
formalized teams, we began to organize under the name TAMU VET, or
Texas A&M University Veterinary Emergency Team," said
Bissett. "We have purchased some special tents, satellite
equipment, portable stocks & stalls, kenneling materials, etc.
so that when we are out in the field, we are able to deploy as a
fully self-sustaining unit."
While deployed, the team is able to do assessments of animals
and triage the injured. This process can include doing
toxicity sampling of water supplies to better know what is
available to stranded livestock and pets, evaluating food and
nutrition needs, and developing ways to stabilize the injured
animals and get them to safety and shelter.
"We want to limit animal suffering," said Bissett. "So
animal welfare will be paramount to our thinking. Our college
was founded on service to the state, so being able to respond when
animals in the state are in need is in our tradition of
Not only have these teams dedicated themselves to being
available to provide needed aid during a disaster, but they also
are using these opportunities as a teaching tool for future
veterinarians. Three veterinary medical students serve on the
TAMU VETs at any given time.
As Alex ran ashore on the Mexican coast, the TAMU VET team
organized gear and personnel to make sure that should the call come
to mobilize, they would be ready. Alex was only the first
hurricane of the season and won't be the last. With TAMU VETs
loaded and ready, animals caught in a disaster situation will have
a dedicated response unit headed their way.
"There are many roles to fill in a time of disaster," added
Bissett. "Our students are able to see how emergency response
is something that brings in faculty from the clinics in a
multi-disciplinary effort. Not everyone is deployed. As
a major referral hospital, the CVM also needs faculty to remain in
the hospital to take care of emergent animal needs that arrive from
shelters, from evacuees passing through, and from the deployed
teams. There's a role for everyone, and it takes everyone to
be successful at what we do."
For additional information about TAMU VET and emergency
preparedness for animals, please contact Angela Clendenin, Director
of Communications & Public Relations at (979) 862-2675.
For more information about the Texas A&M College of Veterinary
Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu
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