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Virtual exercise to prepare animal resource coordinators for disaster response

LEXINGTON, Ky.

Animals are especially vulnerable during natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and winter storms, because they have to rely on humans for help. The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment is hosting the Multi-jurisdictional Animal Resource Coordination Exercise, a virtual exercise for animal responders across the United States. The exercise will take place July 9-10.

“We want to enhance responders’ knowledge and understanding of how to request resources for animal response from federal, state and non-governmental organizations during a disaster,” said Andrea Higdon, UKAg Emergency Management Systems director. “It’s also an excellent opportunity to enhance national, regional and state partnerships and challenge your state’s ability to coordinate animal response during a disaster.”

“In addition to testing their abilities to request resources, participating states will also exercisetheir ability to respond to another state's request for animal resources. This exercise will focus on resources for pets, livestock and horses, captive wildlife and poultry.

The exercise will begin at 10 a.m. EDT July 9 and conclude at 6 p.m. Players will receive a handbook 24 hours in advance. The exercise will resume at 10 a.m. EDT July 10 and conclude by 4 p.m.

Teams from 24 states will participate from their own Emergency Operation Center, with communication primarily through email and phone.

On day one, states will receive a broadcast detailing a natural disaster scenario. They will have to assess what animal-care resources they need and from whom they will request these resources. On day two, players will respond to resources requests from other states. To simulate a real-life natural disaster scenario, the exercise facilitator will offer exercise-wide and state-specific injects.

This exercise will occur in three stages. Stage one took place prior to the virtual training. In that stage, states participated in three training sessions that covered how to identify state resources, including what types of resources can be requested and examples of typed-resources; how to complete a Resource Request Form and make requests to non-governmental organizations including the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition; and how to complete an Emergency Management Assistance Compact. Stage two will involve participation in the exercise. Stage three will entail developing information for the after-action report.

Visit the MARCE website for more details at http://www.ca.uky.edu/MARCE/.

“Improving communication before, during, and after a disaster between state departments of agriculture and state emergency management will be a very valuable outcome of the exercise,” Higdon said. “Requesting animal care resources will be handled more efficiently during real-world disaster events as a result of the increased collaboration between state agencies.”

The funding for the training resulted from a cooperative agreement between UK and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Contact: 

Andrea Higdon, 859-257-7868

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