During natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and winter storms, animals are especially vulnerable, and they rely on humans for help. To help those humans—specifically, animal first responders—prepare in advance, the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment (CAFE) is hosting the Multi-Jurisdictional Animal Resource Coordination Exercise (MARCE) 2017. The virtual exercise for animal responders across the United States will take place July 11-12 and repeated on July 13-14. It will focus on disaster response for pets, livestock, and horses; captive wildlife; and laboratory animals.
“We are looking forward to this opportunity to enhance responders’ knowledge and understanding of how to request resources for animal response from federal, state, and nongovernmental organizations during a disaster,” said Andrea Higdon, UK CAFE Emergency Management Systems director. “It’s also an excellent way to enhance national, regional, and state partnerships and to challenge partners to coordinate animal response during a disaster.”
The exercise is designed to simulate a real-world disaster. Each state will spend one day being the disaster-affected state and the other day responding to disaster areas’ requests. The scenario will also push disaster-affected states to reach out to federal and nongovernmental agencies for aid.
The CAFE exercise development team will direct the overall logistics from Kentucky. Teams from 21 states will participate from their emergency operations centers. On-site personnel will provide states with realistic animal-related issues to address throughout the two-day exercise.
“The primary goal of MARCE 2017 is to improve communication before, during, and after a disaster between state departments of agriculture and state emergency management,” Higdon said. “We hope participants will be able to handle requesting animal care resources more efficiently during real-world disasters as a result of the increased collaboration between state, federal, and nongovernmental agencies.”
The funding for the training resulted from a cooperative agreement between UK and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
Visit the MARCE website at marce.ca.uky.edu for more details about the exercise, including links to pre-exercise training modules.
Aimee Nielson is an agriculture communication specialist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.
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