AAEP helps Florida veterinarians

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Oct 01, 2004
By dvm360.com staff

LEXINGTON, KY.—The American Association of Equine Practitioners' (AAEP) Foundation donated $3,000 to help supply Florida veterinarians with satellite telephones in lieu of recent hurricanes.

Satellite phone capability will ensure communication between area veterinarians, members of veterinary management assistant teams deployed to the area, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local law enforcement.

"While any communication during an actual hurricane is often impossible, the real difficulty is during the aftermath when there is no power to cell phone towers," explained Dana Zimmel, DVM, Florida emergency communication contact for the AAEP's Emergency and Disaster Preparedness Committee and an assistant professor at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. "Satellite phones are often our only communication link to the hardest hit areas."

Early assessments following hurricanes Charley and Frances indicated that while most of the state's horses were relatively unharmed, the ongoing flooding and a lack of drinking water due to the loss of power to wells was a concern.

Other preparatory steps taken by the Florida veterinary community include the identification of hospitals that have generators and are capable of triage, identification of locations where unidentified horses can be placed until the owner is located, identification of suppliers that are prepared to donate or provide extra supplies and medications as needed, contacting local van companies to be on alert to move homeless horses to a shelter and gaining the appropriate clearance for veterinarians to travel when curfews are in place and federal agents are in command.

"I think the most-important aspect for veterinarians in a disaster is to understand how to get assistance when they need it," Zimmel says.

The AAEP also provides a resource guide for veterinarians and horse owners regarding natural disasters.

The AAEP's "Guidelines for Emergency and Disaster Preparation" are available online at http://www.aaep.org/emergency_prep.php.

For more information regarding general emergency management in the state of Florida, visit http://www.floridadisaster.org.