The amount of work involved in preparing for a disaster and the work that needs to be done during a disaster is daunting. To help you understand why so many volunteers are needed, please read through this abreviated list of tasks the team will need to do.
Determine what disasters are possible and develop plans of action and needs analysis based on those possibilities. Be sure all volunteers understand these plans and their roles.
Establish possible shelter locations, close to human shelters if possible. Get written agreements from the facility owners for use of their property for a temporary animal shelter in case of a disaster. Keep these records up to date.
Determine who is trained and able to respond at a moments notice to begin setting up a shelter for the animals (including volunteers to handle all of the jobs involved with operating the temporary shelter.) Training in how to set-up the shelter and how to perform the jobs at the shelter needs to take place prior to an event. There will not be time to do much training on-site until the shelter is up and running and accepting animals.
Be sure all volunteers have proper identification as team members or leaders so they can get into the shelter area.
Be sure all volunteers are registered with at least one county agency so that they are allowed access to the emergency site. This can include CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), OVER- Ohio Veterinary Emergency Response, Citizen Corps. or other county recognized agency. This is also critical for any possible reimbursement as well as workers comp and insurance coverage in some counties.
Establish agreements with pet food vendors to get all types of needed animal food/feed to the site within 8 hours of set-up.
Establish agreements with vendors, individuals and shelters for crates, food bowls, trash cans, clean up supplies (for the volunteers, animals and the facility), temporary fencing, signage, bedding, litter boxes/litter, tarps, tape/rope, lighting, generators, heaters/fans, rubber gloves, hand sanitizer, buckets, hoses, shade tents, tables, chairs, first aid supplies, radios, and any other supplies on the "needed supplies" list that are needed on a moments notice as fast and efficiently as possible. If possible, stock pile some of these items in a trailer or portable bins.
Establish agreements with local animal organizations and farms to take in animals if the disaster is a small scale.
Establish agreements with area veterinarians for emergency care of any injured animals (either through on-scene response by the veterinarian or through treatment agreements for animals brought to the vet by CART members)
Establish agreement with the Red Cross to provide food to the CART volunteers.
Develop working relationships with other emergency response groups so that CART is recognized as a needed response group and so that team member identification is recognized and members are allowed in safe areas near the disaster and rescue task force team members are allowed into restricted areas when it is safe.
Set-up mock drills and other training for team members so they feel prepared to handle a disaster and know what to do if called to respond. The training needs to prepare volunteers so that when called for a disaster, they are ready to step up and perform a multitude of tasks with minimal direction and have their own supplies to be self-sustaining for at least three days. Familiarity with the CART leadership and other volunteers will also help everyone recognize who they can ask for direction or help.
Establish staging areas for trained CART volunteers that are responding to an incident and develop a "phone tree" system of notification letting volunteers know 1) what type of emergency occurred 2) location to respond 3) when to respond (determine work shifts based on volunteer availability) 4) Name of leader on scene
Create a database of locations that have multiple animals that may need help evacuating the animals: Shelters, farms, research facilities, refuges, rescues, Cincinnati zoo and private zoos, multi-pet households, etc.
Create a database of places and people that have supplies or facilities that can be used at a moments notice: Farms to house displaced livestock, shelters for pets during small disasters, people with horse trailers or other trailers or trucks, portable livestock fencing or pens, heavy equipment, etc.
Develop a good map of the area that can be copied and given to volunteers that might need to transport people, supplies, food or animals. These maps can be marked with road closures, the restricted areas, etc.
Educate the public regarding how to deal with a disaster involving their animals. The more self-sufficient people are, the fewer people/animals we will need to help. This education can take the form of flyers, public speaking, this web site and more.
Some disasters and emergencies develop slowly and with some warning (slow rising flood waters, winter storms, extended power outages, etc.) while others occur suddenly and need immediate response (fire in a large apartment building, tornado, chemical spill/explosion, etc.) Regardless of whether or not there is ample warning or no warning, the following actions need to be taken to provide needed services to the displaced people with pets and any other animals effected by the incident.
Notify volunteers to respond - The Emergency Manager, fire chief or police chief can notify a CART Captain of the need for our services. The CART Captain then notifies the leaders on the team who in turn notify their volunteers.
Select the best location for the temporary shelter (or the established shelter that can take the animals.) Once the temp shelter location is decided, contact the facility owner to get permission and access to do a site assessment. The site assessment establishes if the facility is still useable, if there is any existing damage or restricted areas and allows for some pre-planning regarding the placement of various stations within the temp shelter.
Get the temporary shelter set-up and operational. This is a huge task and the better trained and prepared the volunteers are prior to the event, the more smoothly this will go.
Designate volunteers (preferably with trucks) to collect the set-up supplies that the local businesses and individuals agreed to donate in case of emergency. Any items that are on loan will need to be marked with where they should be returned (trailers, temp stalls or livestock fencing, etc.)
Keeping track of:
WHEN THE DISASTER IS OVER
By Cindy Swancott Lovern
Copyright 2014 Tri-State CART County Animal Response Team