There are a number of responses that have been established at the national and state level to respond to emergencies that affect animals, either intentionally—as a result of agriterrorism or bioterrorism—or coincidentally as a result of natural disasters or disease outbreaks.

Those teams include:

  1. The National Animal Health Emergency Response Corps (NAHERC) that was established in 2001 by the United States Department of Agriculture to respond to domestic or international animal disease outbreaks and other disasters impacting animal health.
  2. Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams (VMAT®) whose mission is to provide, upon request by a State, operational emergency response and preparedness programs to that State’s animal health authorities, veterinary medical associations, and other relevant organizations.
  3. National Veterinary Response Teams (NVRT), created in 2007 by the the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as part of its National Disaster Medical System. With the formation of NVRT, some of the previous roles of VMATs “transitioned to one of support at the state and local level and includes conducting early assessments of animal and veterinary medical infrastructure during emergencies and serving as animal emergency response educators in non-urgent times.”

States play a pivotal role in response to any emergency or disaster. State Animal Response Teams (SART) are interagency state organizations dedicated to preparing, planning, responding, and recovering during animal emergencies in the United States.

SART is a public-private partnership, joining government agencies with the private concerns around the common goal of animal issues during disasters. The first SART was founded in North Carolina in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Since then, over 75% of States have developed their own SART, Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps (VMRC) or equivalent organization(s).

All response teams serve under the umbrella of each State’s Emergency Response.

The National Response Framework, part of the National Incident Management System as described on FEMA’s website “is intended to be used by the whole community. The intended audience for this page is individuals, families, communities, the private and nonprofit sectors, faith-based organizations, and local, state, tribal, territorial, insular area, and Federal governments.”

It is important for everyone to be aware of local, state, and federal control over and responsibility for response to emergencies, because, as noted by FEMA:

Government resources alone cannot meet all the needs of those affected by terrorist attacks, natural disasters and other catastrophic events. When disaster strikes, people throughout the community and our nation pitch in to help the response effort.


More on emergency response infrastructure soon . . .