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OUTREACH

The Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team serves the state through response, but also through its outreach efforts, dedicating a portion of its resources to traveling across Texas to help communities develop their own disaster preparedness plans.

Story by CHANTAL COUGH-SCHULZE

Every month, the Texas A&M College of Veterinary

Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVM) Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) gathers to learn and train. The team needs to be prepared—at any given moment they could deploy, which requires members to do anything from decontaminating animals near a nuclear facility to treating a horse injured in an overturned trailer. “We’re an all-hazards team. We train for the spectrum, from wildfires to chemical plant explosions to infectious diseases,” said Dr. Wesley T. Bissett, VET director and associate professor of emergency management. Created in 2009, the VET is the nation’s largest and most sophisticated veterinary medical response team, providing statewide veterinary support. Equipped with a 15-vehicle fleet, the almost 100-member team responds to disasters and trains veterinary students to do the same; members on the educational staff and students also work with communities in advance of disasters. 40 | CVM TODAY // SPRING 2019

Everywhere the team goes, they encounter unique challenges. “What we deal with in College Station is very different than what the Panhandle deals with, or Orange, Texas, or the Rio Grande Valley,” Bissett said. In the Panhandle, the issues the VET assists with are affected by the sheer size of the animal population. Texas raises a lot of cattle—there are more cattle in Texas than there are people in Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi combined—and a large percentage of the nation’s cattle are fed in the Texas Panhandle. When the cattle population is combined with the major swine operations in the Panhandle, the risks change. The sheer volume of animals, combined with such factors as global travel, provides the potential for infectious diseases to cause major problems, according to Bissett. “The cattle are coming from all over the country. When you’ve got thousands of animals in close proximity to

CVM Today Spring 2019  

A semi-annual publication for the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical...

CVM Today Spring 2019  

A semi-annual publication for the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical...