Who hasn’t had that moment, driving on the expressway behind a truck full of cattle, when they wondered, “What would happen if that truck crashed?”
The answer to that question has gotten a lot clearer thanks to a team led by experts from West Virginia University’s Extension Service, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and North Dakota State University.
Dave Workman, WVU Extension agent, Hardy County, and Jerry Yates, manager of the Davis College’s Reymann Memorial Farm in Wardensville, have worked with a national network of experts to create a Bovine Emergency Response Plan, and it’s rapidly turning into the BERP heard across the nation.
Last year, Workman and Yates offered a dry-run training session at the Wardensville farm. In early February, they presented a training session based on the plan at the Cattlemen’s College of the National Cattleman’s Beef Association.
With just the announcement of the February session, “My in-box exploded,” Workman said. The training session was announced on a web site for bovine veterinarians, and a cascade of enthusiastic inquiries followed as the day progressed. Interest in and demand for the plan has been building steadily ever since from both first responders and people in the agriculture industry.
According to Yates, the impetus for the plan came from a colleague from North Dakota State University, Lisa Pederson with the Dickinson Research Extension Center in Bismarck, ND. Pederson had dealt with an accident with human fatalities, bringing into sharp focus the need for well-trained first responders. Pederson and Yates had collaborated before, and Workman, in addition to his Extension expertise, has received dispatcher training from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Incident Management System.
Over 50 million head of domestic and imported cattle and calves are transported annually in the United States. Nearly all of these cattle are transported via semi-truck and trailer. It’s estimated that there are 400,000 head of livestock on the road on any given day. As the number of livestock being transported has increased, so has the number of accidents involving those vehicles.
“The Bovine Emergency Response Plan developed a framework for local emergency responders and law enforcement to more appropriately address accidents involving cattle transport vehicles,” Workman said.
The plan includes standardized procedures, suggestions and materials for dispatchers and first responders in the areas of call assessment, scene arrival and assessment, scene containment and security, extraction and relocation of cattle from the scene, and – when unavoidable – euthanasia of injured animals.
The training sessions thus far have drawn a cross-section of people with a vested interest – law enforcement, firefighters, emergency responders, veterinarians, and livestock industry employees.
“We’ve worked with people from coast to coast and border to border on this project,” Yates said. “And we’ve found that everybody has the same goal – to make a safer situation for the public, the first responder, and the animals.”
Demand for the training program has been so intense that Yates and Workman are contemplating a “train the trainers” component that lets the program have a wider reach than they are able to maintain. They have at least four sessions at least tentatively scheduled over the next several months, and they could easily devote all of their time to traveling and training.
The development of BERP was funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and Beef Check-Off, which contracts with the the National Cattleman’s Beef Association. Other regional and national agencies have expressed an interest in incorporating the plan into emergency response systems.
CONTACT: Dave Workman, WVU Extension Service – Hardy County
Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.