Texas A&M University Hosts NASAAEP Annual Summit

COLLEGE STATION, TX – The National Alliance of State Animal and Agricultural Emergency Programs (NASAAEP) asked the Texas A&M; Veterinary Emergency Team (VET), in only its fourth year of membership, to host the 2016 annual summit. The event brought representatives from government agricultural agencies, animal health organizations, and veterinary colleges from across the United States gathered at Texas A&M; University to hear presentations on the latest efforts and issues relating to animal and agricultural emergency response.

The VET trailer outside of the Memorial Student Center
The VET trailer outside of the Memorial Student Center

Topics presented at this year’s summit included planning for animal issues in a disaster, infectious disease response, sheltering of animals in an emergency situation, building veterinary capacity through pubic/private partnerships, animal decontamination is a disaster, and the support of search and rescue canines during a deployment. An additional highlight included a panel discussion on the VET’s involvement in the Ebola response in 2014. For a complete list of presentations, go to www.nasaaep.org/summithome.htm.

“All too recently we have seen the impact that disasters have on animals and their owners,” said Dr. Wesley Bissett, director of the Texas A&M; VET. “We are fortunate to have organizations such as NASAAEP that bring all the stakeholders in animal and agricultural emergency response to the table to build partnerships and develop plans to provide for the rescue, treatment, and sheltering of animals before and during a disaster event. As one of the newer members of NASAAEP, it is our honor to host this year’s summit and to participate in so many presentations and discussions. Cooperation and collaboration are the way we will improve our ability to respond to animals need.”

The VET displayed their vehicles and response equipment in the plaza by Rudder Fountain outside the Memorial Student Center on main campus for attendees and others to tour. On the last day attendees were provided a tour of Disaster City.

“Disaster City is truly a benchmark in responder training environments, and it’s located right here at Texas A&M;,” said Dr. Deb Zoran, chief medical officer for the Texas A&M; VET. “One of our strongest relationships is with Texas Task Force–1 Urban Search & Rescue team, who call Disaster City home. We have the privilege of working side by side with their team and their search and rescue canines when training at Disaster City and on deployment. Relationships like this are important because in a disaster environment, it’s not just resident animals that are in harm’s way.”

The conference concluded on Thursday, May 19th.

NASAAEP is an organization of government agencies, academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations dedicated to responding to animal needs in a disaster. The members are responsible for emergency planning and response for all animals–large and small–at the state and national levels. All state agencies (United States Department of Agriculture, and the infectious disease response unit from the National Animal Health Emergency Response Commission) have representation in NASAAEP, as well as animal rescue and sheltering groups, such as the American Humane Society and the Humane Society of the United States.

The Texas A&M; Veterinary Emergency Team formed in 2010. The motto of the team is “Serving our state and nation every day.” This is accomplished by deploying the largest and most sophisticated veterinary medical disaster response team in the country, developing and providing cutting edge emergency management education, development of new knowledge in emergency preparedness education and response, and building on the legacy of service that is at the heart of Texas A&M; University.