The Southwest Kansas Regional Homeland Security Council partners with K-State to Provide Training for Emergency Personnel.
Disaster preparedness planning requires understanding different types of emergencies. A Kansas State University center is helping emergency responders learn how to cope with an agricultural emergency involving a high-consequence animal disease outbreak.
The National Agricultural Biosecurity Center will offer three opportunities for animal disease response training in southwest Kansas later this month. One-day sessions are slated for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 24 in Cimarron, Oct. 25 in Liberal and Oct. 26 in Leoti. Location details and registration information are available here. Center staff members have offered four animal disease response training, or ADRT, sessions in northeast Kansas and six in Nebraska in the last two years in an effort to help emergency personnel such as law enforcement, public health officials, firefighters, veterinarians and others understand their potential role, best practices and safety issues associated with response an animal disease emergency. The training emphasizes the degree of coordination between agencies that an animal disease outbreak would require.
"Local responders — especially those in rural areas where the response may be spread over great distances — need to understand the basics of biosecurity and the tools that would be available to them in the event of an agricultural emergency," said Ken Burton, program director at the National Agricultural Biosecurity Center.
"Preparation is particularly important in areas that are vital to our food supply. Southwest Kansas is one of those areas," Burton said.
Local responders need to learn both the signs of and actions to take during an emergency and how to communicate effectively with state and federal officials, he said.
Amy Schaffer, a veterinarian in Morrill, said the training helps members of the response community gain a common understanding of the coordination required in handling an event.
"Animal disease response training is a unique opportunity for all of these different individuals to meet each other and learn about the roles they play in a potential disease outbreak," Schaffer said. "It's not every day that a veterinarian is sitting next to a producer and a public health professional and a law enforcement official. It's great to have that expertise in one room, and learning from each other was a highlight."
The National Agricultural Biosecurity Center is working with four more states to offer future training sessions.
"We've seen a lot of interest in this training, and we're happy to be contributing to better preparedness in Kansas and around the country," Burton said.