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Louisiana Agricultural Emergency Response Team participates in multi-state training exercise

May 4, 2010

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said the state’s Agricultural Emergency Response Team (AgERT) participated in a multi-state practice emergency response exercise to combat a fictional veterinary emergency and fulfilled its mission.
“I’m very pleased with the professionalism of our team and the efficacy of their training,” Strain said. “The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) is one of the few state agencies whose personnel have completed the National Incident Management Systems training and this training exercise gives them much needed experience if an actual emergency were to occur.”
The exercise pitted Louisiana responders against a simulated foreign animal disease that had the potential to seriously disrupt the Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi cattle population. Alabama and Mississippi state agriculture officials were conducting the same exercise as part of a larger training session that invoked the Southern Agriculture and Animal Disaster Response Alliance (SAADRA).
The training took place at LDAF headquarters April 29-30 in Baton Rouge.
Participants in the Baton Rouge exercise included officials from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Service, LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Texas Animal Health Commission, Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission and private industry observers.
“The National Incident Management System provides a framework for first responders to assess a situation and report to higher authorities up the line to create an efficient response to anything from small emergencies like a 100-acre forest fire to larger multi-state hurricane disasters,” Strain said.
The exercise was a two-day training which gave the AgERT incident command staff an opportunity to develop a plan to contain the fictional veterinary emergency. The scenario involved a second day of training when veterinary materials requested from the National Veterinary Stockpile were delivered to a LDAF warehouse
Technicians learned how to receive, inventory and deliver the palletized veterinary supplies to emergency responders in the field.
“Our overall mission is to protect the human, animal and plant health of the state,” Strain said. “This training is another way to achieve that goal.”