Newsletter JAVMA Monday 2013 : Page 1


ZFBSTPG7."5 By Malinda Larkin MONDAY AVMA Annual Convention Daily News T he AVMA’s Veterinary Medical As-sistance Teams have reached a mile-stone this year with their 20th anni-versary. Practically all of the current volunteer VMAT members were on hand during a pre-sentation Sunday at the AVMA Pavilion in the exhibit hall of McCormick Place West where they were honored for their service. Outgoing AVMA President Douglas G. Aspros lauded them for their commitment and for “taking the Veterinarian’s Oath to another level.” Those who had served more than 15 years on VMAT or who responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, or Hurricane Sandy this past year were all recognized. Practically all of the VMAT members also are part of national, state, or local animal response or-ganizations. On Saturday, Dr. Cheryl L. Eia, an assistant director in the AVMA’s Scien-tific Activities Division and coordinator of emergency preparedness and response, and VMAT members unveiled the new VMAT U program during a day-long symposium. “VMAT U is the result of the success of our training program,” Dr. Eia said. “This is formalizing and standardizing our training, and expanding it, too.” Topics covered by VMAT U include hazmat, occupational safety, risk commu-nication, leadership, critical incident stress management, veterinary assessment, and triage. Just this year, VMAT has already hosted a decontamination training ses-sion at the Student AVMA Symposium at Louisiana State University and a program on how to care for oil-covered water fowl at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. A few members will host other decontamination training ses-sions in Oklahoma City and Tulsa in a few weeks. A number of the VMAT U training modules are a direct result of collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Disaster Medi-VMAT members train others in disaster response and also participate in educational sessions themselves. Here, they take part in training exercises at the Tri-State Veterinary Disaster Response Conference in 2009. Members of the AVMA Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams gather to celebrate the disaster response and preparedness program’s 20th anniversary Sunday. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen) cal System’s National Veterinary Response Team program. VMAT members came up with the courses a few years ago, but they hadn’t been updated in some time. Dr. Ty J. Vannieuwenhoven, chief veteri-nary officer for the National Disaster Medical System, secured funding to refresh and update older modules as well as create additional ones when he came on board two years ago. “My vision was to make this training available broadly and for it to capture na-tional animal response standards to not only make NVRT better but to strengthen the ca-pabilities of the communities that we sup-port as well as our response partners,” like VMAT, he told the AVMA Annual Conven-tion Daily News. VMAT originated in the wake of Hur-ricane Andrew when the AVMA and DHHS entered into a memorandum of understand-ing, making VMAT part of the federal re-sponse plan. A year later, the AVMA signed an MOU with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Ser-vice, engaging VMAT to assist in the event of outbreaks of foreign animal diseases and emerging animal diseases. Since then, VMAT members have de-ployed to numerous emergencies, including Hurricane Floyd in 1999, the World Trade Center in 2001, and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. The program evolved in 2008 after changes in federal law that created two separate, complementary programs: AVMA VMAT and DHHS NVRT. This was also when VMAT began to focus on state assis-tance and strengthening its training compo-nent. From the very beginning, the AVMA and the American Veterinary Medical Foun-dation have supported VMAT efforts. The AVMF alone has donated more than $1 mil-lion to VMAT. Dr. John R. Brooks, AVMF vice chair, said he sees VMAT members becoming more involved with AVMF’s “Saving the Whole Family” disaster preparedness ef-forts as a brand new opportunity as VMAT starts its next 20 years. Earn up to 15 . 5 CE credits and gifts with Daily Nutrition Matters , an online nutrition training program. Learn more at the Purina booth #1428 . And get started at PurinaVeterinaryDiets . com/Technicians ® FEED YOUR CAREER Trademarks owned by Société des Produits Nestlé S.A., Vevey, Switzerland

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