About 29 College of Veterinary Medicine students and faculty, along with various Southern California veterinarians, veterinary technicians and animal control officers, participated in the Animal Disease Response Training course at Western University of Health Sciences, Saturday, April 30, 2011.

The eight-hour course, held in the Health Education Center on the Pomona, Calif., campus, is a stepping stone to help responders learn to address animal disease outbreaks – in particular, those that would threaten the food supply.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, through the AgPreparedness Center, funds the course.

"It’s vital that traditional first responders train with veterinary professionals. Police officers contain the area during an incident and preserve evidence," said Diane McClure, DVM, PhD, DACLAM, CVM associate professor of Laboratory Animal Medicine and Southern California co-coordinator for California Veterinary Medical Reserve Corp (CAVMRC) "Firefighters are concerned with human safety and have been incorporating companion animal safety and property. Training with veterinary professionals helps everyone appreciate different perspective as a responder."

The course also provided insight for first responders into how to integrate into an existing response plan and addressed guidelines to coordinate across many jurisdictions and lines of authority.

AgPreparedness instructors Justin Jensen and Kathy Connell, DVM, described various best methods and safety concerns associated with an agriculture emergency, such as personal protective equipment, biosecurity, quarantine, euthanasia, disposal, and cleaning and disinfection.

CVM third-year student Jamie Bean said she always wanted to get involved in emergency response, but until now, felt she would be in the way.

"I think that I most likely would be a first responder in any community that I end up joining," she said.