Vol. 6, No. 5, May 2010

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Weekend of Training a Success

Awareness Level Emergency Animal Sheltering Training
April 24-25, Bushnell, Florida
David Perry, FDACS

Ninety people were involved in the exercise and all camped out for the weekend. The group included 13 veterinarians and 26 people from UF’s VETS Team. Groups represented were UAN, EARS, ASPCA, Bay Area DART, HSUS and others. The Humane Society of Sumter County and Sumter County DART Team really did a great job helping manage the venue and Sumter county Animal Control provided 25 dogs for the training exercise.

On Saturday, DART trainers put on an 8-hour Awareness Level Training session in the cafeteria of South Sumter High School. It involved hands-on exercises such as putting crates together. I gave a 45-minute presentation about the Incident Command System.

Laura Bevan photo

On Sunday, we got started with intake and triage performed by the veterinarians. During the day, people played roles such as a confused lady with a stuffed dog; how to handle a pregnant dog; an individual having a heart attack and more.

I thought this training went extremely well, that the DART folks really took charge under the on-site command of Laura Bevan and that a lot of people came away with both skills knowledge and an understanding of what the environment would be like in an actual emergency. Law enforcement presence helped give the event a realistic atmosphere.

After this event, I feel a lot more confident that we’ll be prepared if we actually have to deploy in an emergency. I’d also like to recognize Melissa Forsberg, Ronnie Graves and Meredith Shields among the dozens of volunteers who made such a great effort in this exercise.

Pam Burns, Bay Area DART

We all learned new things and I did not hear or see any complaining or bickering; it was a true Team Effort. There were no egos, just everyone trying to do their best to get tasks accomplished safely and efficiently.

Some people didn't get to see many of the scenarios that played out but Roy Ware and Fran Jensen should get Oscars for acting! (Contact me for a list of drill scenarios. Scenarios were taken from actual events. It's interesting to study them and decide what you would have done.)

Field exercise decontamination team

This drill was set up to give participants a taste of what to expect in a disaster – the compound, buzz of generators, limited supplies, camping, heat, etc.

I learned to be more patient as things take longer due to limited resources: an example was toilet paper. (I was told to come self-sufficient, so I'll add TP to my next "go list!"). I also learned a new role, Plans Section Chief, and it was stressful. [A note about being self sufficient – logistics was asked for a toothbrush and toothpaste!  Responding to a disaster is not like going on vacation.]

Consie von Gontard

It was extremely hot and some people had trouble handling heat. At the post-event meeting (called, ironically, a HotWash) we discussed adding more canopies for shade and possibly big fans for the animals as well as volunteers. Before you get too hot, you must take care of yourself; be aware of how you are feeling and take a break. Get out of the sun and stay hydrated before it's too late!

I want to thank the Friday volunteers that handled registration from 3:00 pm – 10:00 pm; those that got up early to help with Saturday morning registration; and those that stayed late to hand out certificates. You all went above the call of duty and it was appreciated.

I've uploaded pictures to a Snapfish Group Room. If you have pictures to share or you want to see pictures go to:

http://www2.snapfish.com/snapfish/groupview/groupid=73091009/ groupownerid=36930087/. You may have to sign in or use my email address pamburns@tampabay.rr.com (the password is “snapfish”) and go to group room “FLSARC.” If you have any issues, let me know.

If you add photos, please crate an album in the FLSARC group with your name indicated. That way if someone wants a copy and doesn’t want to order through Snapfish, I will know who took the photo and can possibly get you a copy sent via email.

Please share your comments, positive or negative. We want to be the best team and your suggestions are valuable. To become part of Florida State Animal Response Coalition complete and return the FLSARC volunteer application that was given to you at class on Saturday. If you have any questions, please let me know.

John Haven, UF, College of Veterinary Medicine

The weekend of April 24 and 25 was a big training weekend for Florida SART.  Approximately 90 responders from Sumter DART, Bay Area DART, EARS, UF VETS, Vet Corps, ASPCA, HSUS, Sumter County Animal Control, and other participants, came together for the weekend to train in Sumter County.  Training goals:

  1. provide an awareness level training course for the newly formed Florida SARC (State Animal Response Coalition, a coalition of FL disaster response NGOs),
  2. create a real scenario for the SARC team and the VETS and Vet Corps teams to train together,
  3. provide a training environment for the development of a SARC Incident Management Team, and
  4. create an environment where responders could experience what a real deployment would be like, including required overnight camping.
Simulated heat stress injury.
Incident Commander Laura Bevan
Dr. Sonday

The newly formed SARC provides Florida SART’s ESF-17, the lead Emergency Support Function [for animals and agriculture] in a Florida disaster, with one coordinating entity to pull together resources for animal rescue, sheltering, and transportation.  Currently, the state is challenged with coordinating a large number of NGOs, who have varying training standards, to meet the needs of the state during a response. 

SARC provides one point of contact to coordinate these resources.  Additionally SARC is in the process of developing common training and credentialing standards for its responders, following the national NASAAEP training standard level categories of Awareness, Operations and Technician Level courses.

Day 1, Saturday the 24th, was the first Awareness Level Course. It met the needs of basic responders, and was accomplished in one day of classroom work. This course will be offered across the state, as well as the launching of Operations and Technician Level courses to provide higher levels of training in specific areas such as rescue, shelter team leaders, animal transport, etc.  Instructors for the course included Consie von Gontard, Connie Brooks, Melissa Forberg, David Perry, Laura Bevans and Dr Cuypers.

Day 2, Sunday the 25th, the SARC team, along with the VETS and Vet Corps teams were provided with a scenario requiring them to perform animal triage, intake, decon, medical evaluation and sheltering for 25 dogs. This allowed participants to practice skills learned in the SARC class, to improve operational workflows, and to test procedures and equipment.

Field Exercise incident briefing

In addition to these "standard" response issues, each dog had a scenario based on something actually experienced during a real deployment. To further challenge responders, a "red team" simulated real-life scenarios: heat injuries, attempts by people to penetrate the compound, an owner with grief issues, etc. Several of the "red team" members deserve awards for their acting.

After the training, all of the dogs from Sumter County Animal Control were taken to adoption centers, primarily at Tampa SPCA.

During a typical declared deployment, SART is heavily reliant on FDACS to provide an Incident Management Team (IMT) to manage the incident. Over the past two years, David Perry from FDACS and I have taught ICS 300 and ICS 400 to members of the state SART partner agencies.  We used this training event as a coaching opportunity to allow SARC members to be the IMT for planning the weekend of training, and the actual running of the actual exercise. This “deepening of the IMT bench” will benefit SART in future responses, as well as improve the responses of the NGOs when they respond to local emergencies or hoarding cases.

The training weekend included a "deployment." All participants camped on site Saturday night, getting to experience the capabilities of their teams for camping, showering, eating, etc. Some people enjoyed the FDACS bunk trailers, others enjoyed the tents of the VETS team, and others slept in their own tents and RVs. It provided a great time for inter-team bonding before Sunday's scenario.

This year's hurricane season forecast is projected to be a busy one, and after this weekend’s training, Florida SART is now better prepared to respond to the needs of Florida, or to assist other states if needed. Hurricane Season starts June 1 – the first step is preparing a plan for your own family and animals…


Oil Spill News & Notes

The huge Gulf of Mexico oil spill which resulted from the April 22nd explosion at the Deepwater Horizon/British Petroleum oil rig and the resultant fire, came ashore on Louisiana’s barrier islands on May 7th. The spill’s path is projected to move eastward and various wind-and-current modeling efforts even have suggested that it could ruin beaches from Pensacola to Daytona. No one yet knows as the mile-deep well has not yet been capped and – at least as of the date of this writing – continues to bubble 5,000 barrels of crude oil into the Gulf each day.

Designated a "spill of national significance" and not regulated under the Stafford Act, ESF-17 ECO Joe Kight says SART has not been activated in a way that might be necessary from a hurricane, for example. Staying informed is a good idea, though, because depending upon the containment and clean-up operations now underway, practically anything could happen from oil pollution in the aqua-culture businesses to tourism to irrigation and drinking water emergencies.

Because SART's mission is all-hazard disaster preparedness, planning, response, and recovery for the animal and agriculture sectors, it is informative to review the organization of volunteers and responders for this disaster.

USFWS is working with Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research (www.tristatebird.org) which has been contracted by BP to help impacted wildlife species. Tri-State is experienced in wildlife oil spill response.

“Coordination is vitally important for recovery and research efforts, and specific safety requirements and other requirements must be met before anyone will be allowed on-site for any participation.”

A Paraprofessional Coordinator (PPC) is compiling a list and scheduling potential paraprofessionals*: state rehabilitation organizations, wildlife rehabilitation organizations and private rehabilitators. Paraprofessionals in LA, MS, AL, FL and TX will have first preference and will be scheduled for efforts in their home state.

To be considered, submit name, address including city and state, phone number (prefer cell phone and alternate numbers), email address, whether you have oil spill experience, and how far you can travel, as well as:

  1. If you are a Rehabilitator with at least 6 months of experience;
  2. What species you have experience with, i.e. wading birds, raptors, pelagic seabirds, waterfowl, etc. (It would be beneficial to know if you are a veterinarian or an avian veterinarian, a vet tech or a well-seasoned rehabilitator.);
  3. If you have a minimum of 4 hours of HAZCOM certification;
  4. If you have Rabies pre-exposure shots; and
  5. A rough estimate of your availability.

Direct inquires to fw4ppc@fws.gov or to (404) 679-7049.
* A paraprofessional is defined as an individual who:

  1. Either possesses or works directly under a person possessing a permit or authorization for the species to be worked on;
  2. Is affiliated with a wildlife organization in the Wildlife Branch of the Incident Command Structure (ICS) or is a staff member of a wildlife Trustee agency;
  3. Agrees to work under and abide by appropriate planning documents prepared by the Unified Command (Site Safety Plan, Incident Action Plan, public affairs requirements, etc.), and
  4. Have a working knowledge and experience (at least 3 months) with the general protocol, procedures and safety hazards associated with the species of question.

NOTE: Anyone who does not qualify as a paraprofessional, but is still interested in volunteering, may register at Gulf of Mexico-Deepwater Horizon Incident http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/site/2931/.

Oiled wildlife calls should be directed to the Wildlife Hotline at (866) 557-1401 so we can coordinate recovery/rescue. Do not go to affected areas or handle wildlife until you are part of a coordinated response effort.

Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Div. of Law Enforcement
State Emergency Operations Center – ESF 16


Training Opportunities
for Wildlife Recovery & Rehabilitation Paraprofessionals

If you are planning to go hands-on with oil-spill clean-up, you must have taken the free British Petroleum (BP) awareness and safety training (complete with the scored test). The good news is that you can complete it either by computer or in the classroom.

To sign up for classroom training in the Gulf Coast Region call (866) 647-2338 to enroll.

For computer-based training click on this link https://www2.virtualtrainingassistant.com/BPPublic/wc.dll?learner~cmenu and follow the directions. If you haven’t done this before, click on "I'm a New Student" where a page will pop up for you to self-register. There are four lesson modules: 1. an attestment that you are a qualified wildlife recovery paraprofessional, (If you don’t meet the qualifications listed, you won’t be allowed to go further.) 2. the training itself, 3. the test (Score 80% to pass. You have three chances!) and 4. a certificate of completion to print and take with you to a rehab site.

Local contact information for animal volunteers:
Pensacola: Marisa Walker: 281-366-1065, marisa.walker@bp.com
           Lucia Bustamante: 281-777-5865, lucia.bustamante@bp.com
Okaloosa: Clayton Cochran: 281-202-8686, clayton.cochran@bp.com
Franklin: Elise Carpenter: 901-651-2556, carpe3@bp.com



Indian River County Develops Pet-Friendly Shelter

The new Liberty Magnet School (6850 81st Street) in Vero Beach is the site of a shelter where county pet owners who reside in an evacuation area can safely be sheltered in the same facility with their pets during declared emergencies. People and pets will be sheltered in separate areas, the Humane Society and Animal Control monitoring the pet area; the Red Cross managing the human area.

This initiative is a cooperative effort of Indian River County’s Emergency Management, Animal Control, School District, the Humane Society and the American Red Cross (N. Treasure Coast Chapter). Etta LoPresti (elopresti@ircgov.com), Emergency Management Planner, notes that Liberty Magnet School principal Dale Klaus was especially supportive of this community project.

Residents who might need shelter during declared emergencies are encouraged to pre-register. They will be required to show proof of residency in the evacuation area and that their pets have up-to-date vaccinations and rabies shots. Despite having this shelter available, Indian River urges residents to go to the homes of friends or relatives outside the area if possible as this is usually more comfortable – and certainly more private – for both people and pets than a public shelter.

To pre-register residents can obtain an application on-line at www.irces.com  or www.hsvb.org, or by calling the Humane Society at (772) 388-3331 x 10.

Indian River County ESF-17 Jason Ogilvie of Animal Control says non-governmental organizations with committed groups of volunteers, and a professional staff willing to go the extra mile, took the shelter from concept to reality. It also helped that the new school board head was “all for it” as they had been “trying to get this going for a couple years.”

Ogilvie says the school will have room for as many as 220 small animals: dogs, cats, hamsters…. Snakes? “No snakes,” he says.



Making Plans and Private MOU's

By Lt. Daisy Harsch
Field Supervisor
Commercial Licensing and
Enforcement Unit
Palm Beach County
Animal Care and Control

With hurricanes, tornados, and other natural and man-made disasters wreaking havoc, worried animal guardians wonder how to best protect their furred, finned, feathered and scaly friends.

There are several effective ways to prepare for emergencies, and the most important of those is to make arrangements in advance to ensure animals' safety. As important as it is to have a personal disaster plan, it is just as important to have a plan if you own or run an animal related business. Continuity of Operations depends largely on the plans you made prior to any emergency. Almost every day we meet business owners who admit that they have not given much thought to preparing a plan which includes their animals, naively believing that the local government will come to the rescue when they find themselves in need of assistance.

As animal care professionals it behooves us to educate the business community about proper emergency management and effective disaster planning strategies. We need to encourage businesses to plan for at least 5 days of self-reliance – more, if possible. The idea is that if they are able to care for themselves, even if only for a few days during a disaster, their need for our intervention will be minimized, freeing us up to care for those unavoidable emergencies which will undoubtedly use up a good portion of our time and resources.

When evacuation is unavoidable, business owners should consider the use of Memorandums of Understanding (MOU).  No longer are MOUs the exclusive domain of government. There is no law that a business owner can’t develop a relationship with similar business 4 or 5 counties away. The details for such an understanding should be worked out well in advance, with agreements about sharing resources, who pays for what and for how long, how transportation is to be handled, who pays for the extra staffing needed, etc. Pet shops, stables, kennels and any business whose primary inventory is the kind that breathes could benefit greatly from this kind of agreement.

Fall Severe Weather
Take steps to protect your family and property now.

Are You Ready? Guide
Prepare yourself and your loved ones for all types of hazards.

Current Storm Watch
Find national weather and climate long-term and short-term info.

Owners should review several plans, many of which are available online, and decide on what works best for them.


APHIS to Publicize Animal Welfare Enforcement Information

USDA/APHIS will soon begin issuing press releases announcing the outcome of enforcement actions it has taken in response to violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

“It is clear that certain repeat offenders are not taking issues of animal welfare and humane treatment seriously enough,” APHIS Administrator Cindy Smith said. “In turn, APHIS will not only be moving more swiftly to take enforcement action, but we will be making information about those enforcement actions available to the public on our Web site www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom.”

Beginning in June, 2010, APHIS will issue monthly press releases that include case summaries where the agency is charging people and businesses with violations of the AWA. The press releases will also provide summary information about closed enforcement cases and penalties levied. The agency previously issued press releases of this nature, but discontinued the practice in 2002.


Responder Partner Highlight: Florida Highway Patrol

A Florida Highway Patrol trooper and his canine check an automobile for drugs. (Rick Sapp photo)

Your Sentinel editor recently spent a day riding with specially trained drug interdiction troopers and a canine specialist of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP). Numerous traffic stops along Interstate 95 resulted in routine citations: speeding, illegally darkened vehicle windows, failure to wear seat belts. Others were a bit on the edge and highlight this agency’s key role in patrolling our highways. Several vehicular searches resulted in one seizure of illegal pills – which the driver had quickly stashed under his seat in a cigarette package – and one off-Interstate high-speed chase which the FHP trooper quickly terminated for safety reasons, the presence of many neighborhood pedestrians.

Officially created with 60 sworn officers in 1939, FHP is part of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Officers are called State Troopers, not Highway Patrolman, as in some states. The function of the FHP is to ensure the safety of State Roads, U.S. Highways and Interstates.

FHP troopers are state law enforcement officers and as such are considered police officers. They have the power to enforce Florida state law and make arrests. Still, they are not “state police.” The Florida Constitution stipulates that the chief law enforcement officer of a Florida county is that county's sheriff.

Since its founding, 41 FHP troopers have been killed on duty: 19 by gunshot, 17 in automobile crashes, five in aircraft crashes and one in an explosion. The authorized strength of the FHP is 2,360: 1,813 sworn officers and 547 non-sworn. The FHP Reserve consists of 110 volunteers who have the authority to bear arms and make arrests but receive no compensation. The FHP Auxiliary consists of about 500 volunteers who are armed and wear uniforms to assist troopers but do not have arrest power and receive no compensation.


FDACS/WIFSS Course Schedule

Please don’t forget that FDACS’ Office of Agricultural Emergency Preparedness is partnering with the Western (WIFSS) to present DHS-Certified Agroterrorism Courses. All courses are free and lunch is provided. Additional sponsoring partners include UF’s Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences, the Florida Department of Health and the Regional Domestic Security Task Forces.

AWR-153 Principles of Detection and Diagnosis:  Strategies and Technologies
- Tuesday, May 18 – Ft. Myers: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Ft. Myers Regional Operations Center, 4700 Terminal Dr., Suite 6, Ft. Myers, FL 33901
- Wednesday, May 19 – Bradenton: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Public Safety Center, 2101 47th Ter. East, Bradenton, FL 34203
- Wednesday, June 23 – Pensacola: 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Escambia County Public Safety, 6575 North “W” St., Pensacola, FL 32505

AWR-154 Principles of National Incident Management System (NIMS), Team Building, and Risk Communication
- Thursday, May 20 – Seffner: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Hillsborough County Extension Office, 5339 South CR-579, Seffner, FL 33584
- Thursday, June 24 – Tallahassee: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Betty Easley Conference Center, Room 152, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee, FL 32399
- Tuesday, July 20 – Orlando: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Orange County Sheriff’s Office Central Operations Center Mel Martinez Auditorium, 2500 W. Colonial, Orlando, FL 32804
- Wednesday, July 21 – Gainesville: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. USDA FSA, 4401   NW 25th Pl., Gainesville, FL 32606
- Thursday, September 16 – Jacksonville: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Jacksonville Regional Operations Center, 921 N Davis St., Bldg. E, Jacksonville, FL 33209

Registration:  http://wifss.ucdavis.edu/agroterrorism/classes/classesbydate.php
Information: http://wifss.ucdavis.edu/agroterrorism/classes/course_desc.php
For questions contact John Terry (850) 410-6756/251-4184 terryj1@doacs.state.fl.us


In the Land of Cotton - Pests

According to FDACS, a USDA inspector recently found cotton seed bugs on cotton in a residential area of Monroe County. It has been intercepted on shipments into Florida, but this is the first time it has been found on land.

About the insect: The quarter-inch bug attacks cotton and other plants in the cotton family including hibiscus and okra and can damage fruits and seeds of unrelated plants. Native to Africa, it is established worldwide including in the Caribbean Basin and Puerto Rico.
This insect feeds on cottonseed, making the seeds less likely to sprout and reducing oil quality. Severe infestations can decrease germination by 75%. It can also cause staining of cotton lint during ginning.

Cotton is still a significant agricultural commodity in Florida, which produced 78,000 acres of commercial cotton and 31,000 tons of seed in 2009.                                   

CAPS Survey: A delimiting survey is now underway in Monroe County. It is being conducted by CAPS, the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey, a combined effort of state and federal agricultural agencies, which conducts surveillance, detection and monitoring of exotic plant pests of agricultural and natural plant resources. CAPS has conducted surveys of wild cotton in South Florida and okra fields in Homestead since 2008.

Why it is important: Florida produced 78,000 acres of commercial cotton and 31,000 tons of seed in 2009. This field crop grows in Northwest Florida in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Jackson, Calhoun, Washington and Jefferson Counties.
The U.S. grows 20% of the world’s cotton, second only to China at 30%; India contributes 14% and Pakistan 10%. Cotton for lint and seed is grown in 17 U.S. states, Florida being the 15th by volume.

A regulated plant: In Florida, FDACS/DPI regulates the planting of cotton due to the boll weevil, a plant pest of cotton. Regulations prohibit noncommercial propagation, planting and growing except with a special permit. (Wild cotton is endangered and should not be distributed or removed from the wild.)

Visit http://www.fl-dpi.com or call (888) 397-1517 for more information or contact Denise Feiber feiberd@doacs.state.fl.us.


FEMA National Shelter System

Begun in June 2009 FEMA’s National Shelter System (NSS) is a record-keeping system or “Web-based database” that supports government agencies and voluntary organizations responsible for mass care and emergency assistance. NSS lets users identify, track, analyze and report on data for virtually any facility associated with the congregate care of people or household pets after a disaster.

NSS and emergency managers:

  • NSS gives managers a tool to manage and share sheltering and feeding information.
  • Its mapping program lets managers create custom maps to show where facilities are located in relation to such things as natural hazards, evacuation routes and critical infrastructure.
  • Helps determine the capabilities and capacities of each facility; provides detailed information on 140+ data points such as kitchens, number of showers, pre- and post-evacuation sheltering capacity and whether or not the facility is pet friendly.
  • Provides standardized and customizable reports.

Jurisdictions can access NSS at www.fema.gov/about/regions/regioni/bridge8-3.shtm and through their FEMA Regional Points of Contact. To request training or additional information e-mail: esf-06-mass-care-1@dhs.gov. Scott Richardson (202) 212-1097


KIM - Keep-In-Mind Dates

May 23-28 Governor’s Hurricane Conference (www.flghc.org)*
September 1SART Advisory Board Meeting (details to come)
Feb. 28-Mar. 02, 2011SART Conference/Advisory Board Meeting (details to come)


About the SART Sentinel

Editor: Rick Sapp, PhD, Technical Writer, Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Division of Animal Industry [rsa5@cox.net]

Associate Editor: Joe Kight, State ESF-17 Coordinator, Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Division of Animal Industry [kightj@doacs.state.fl.us]

The SART SENTINEL is an E-mail newsletter prepared monthly by Rick Sapp and the members of the Florida State Agricultural Response Team. Past issues of the Sentinel are archived on the Florida SART Web Site, www.flsart.org.

If you have a story or photo that you would like to have considered for publication in The SART SENTINEL, please contact the Editors.