A FEMA Emergency Management Institute training was held in Lewistown at the Central Montana fairgrounds on June 24. In attendance were law enforcement and emergency service personal, rural fire departments, MSU Extension staff, Bureau of Land Management staff, a private business owner and livestock producers. Attendees were from Fergus, Judith Basin and Deer Lodge Counties.
Emergency responders received credit for the FEMA certified exercises. Law enforcement attendees received 6 Peace Officer Standards and Trainings (P.O.S.T.) credits.
The day started at 8:30 AM with Scott Cotton, University of Wyoming, doing a review of agriculture disasters covering floods, fires, snowstorms, hurricanes and more. Ben Phillips, Fergus County Disaster and Emergency Services, followed with a discussion on what resources do emergency managers need for an agriculture disaster.
Jeanne Rankin, Montana State University Associate Specialist, and Cotton both talked about the roll Extension staff can play in the case of an agriculture emergency. Extension staff may have contacts of ag producers who could provide a service that would help mitigate an emergency situation, such as providing stock trailers, riders to help gather cattle in danger and providing holding pens for cattle removed from a danger zone.
Rankin also provided information on disease issues and livestock stop movement orders. How the orders could come about, who would give those orders, and some potential consequences to not only the agriculture community, but the surrounding communities if a livestock stop movement order was issued.
The group did an outdoor exercise using a traveling portable corral. They learned how to set the corral up and discussion was held on the importance of a piece of equipment such as the corral in the event of a livestock emergency. The corral folds into a one-piece unit that can be towed behind a pickup and transported to where needed and set up in a matter of minutes with minimal people involved.
A review of what is needed for equipment in the case of a livestock transportation accident was given by Rankin. She gave safety tips not only for the humans responding to the accident, but for animal safety as well.
Richard Hayes, Deputy Sheriff in Judith Basin County, talked with the group on how to handle bee transportation issues. Keeping bees safe and in the hive in case of a truck break-down and the load is at a stand-still and how to deal with a rolled over load were discussed.
Cotton and Rankin lead a discussion on livestock handling practices. It was noted throughout the seminar that human safety must be thought out and practiced. “Always give yourself an escape route” Cotton said. Animals that have gone through any kind of disaster are going to be flighty and hard to handle and may be on the fight.
The seminar ended with the attendees doing a mock exercise to put in practice what they had learned throughout the day. This exercise helped emergency managers to think about what their departments might need to change or update in their emergency management plans.