Northeast Wyoming wants to be prepared for disaster for humans and for livestock

(Gillette, Wyo.) Today area officials trained with the University of Wyoming at the Cam-Plex to prepare themselves for the chance of an agricultural-related disaster. The USDA doesn't generally do direct response or plan for a widespread outbreak, like a livestock disease spreading at a rodeo or livestock event. Campbell County doesn't currently have an animal evacuation plan in place for such an occurrence. That's a problem that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has decided needs specialized attention. Members of the Campbell County fair board, local animal control, and FEMA officers from as far away as Rapid City gathered today to find out how to coordinate for a natural disaster that would impact animals. Weston, Crook, and Converse County officers were mixed in to try and bring a diversity of opinion to the conversation. These things do happen in Wyoming. Because they had a good plan in place, an illness at Cheyenne Frontier Days last summer was handled quickly and with little fanfare. A quarantine situation at an event like the National High School Rodeo later this year could mean local law enforcement would need to control a crowd of upset parents and horse owners that just want to take their animals home. In situations like in 2013 when nearly thousands of cattle, sheep, and other livestock died during the Black Hills blizzard, the Federal government was in a shutdown. It fell to local agencies to respond. If it wasn't clear before, at that time a well trained response team for agricultural disasters is crucial. "To us, a disaster is just a big fair," said Scott Cotton, who is an educator with UW's Extension Disaster Education Network. He was one of a handful of experts at EDEN that were tapped to develop this training program. When it launched last summer in Casper, the response was overwhelming. It's why UW is in town today, and was in Park County earlier this week: to bring an awareness to the county that they need to have a plan in place. Cotton has seen response times for ushering cattle herds out of the path of wildfires in Nebraska drop from 9+ hours to 45 minutes. He credits better communication and coordination through preparedness drills like the ones happening here. Today's training specifically focused on the "county fair" scenario. How do you secure a venue, treat sick animals, and control an upset crowd? Participants will receive FEMA certification after the course is complete, which will hopefully lead to a better preparedness across Northeast Wyoming to handle these situations quickly and efficiently. #county17 #news #dally