Monday, September 12, 2011

Wildfires in Texas

Although this blog is about my life and Kentucky in particular, I thought this was something everyone would enjoy reading about.  As you know, Texas is burning up.  There are animals being rescued from the fires and brought to Texas A and M's vet school for help.  Here is a website and a note from someone involved in this.  I do have permission to forward this.  It is a pretty amazing thing and I thought everyone would like to look at this.


My apologies for the updates becoming less frequent. I am including the
fourth year class and Melinda Wood on this e-mail.  Melinda is leading
the effort of forming the student veterinary emergency team chapter.  My
intention is for this update to be a bit different than others I have

First, we set up our new FOB (forward operating base) yesterday and now
have both trailers in operation.  Our team has seen approximately 100
rescued small animals with ~50 requiring fairly extensive work and some
being beyond help.  We have seen far fewer large animals on this
deployment.  Our set up works well but we are learning so much.  We have
recognized that mobility is key and will be working to enhance these
capabilities in the future.  We need to be smaller, leaner and able to
move our operation quickly and effectively.

In addition to the rescued animals, our team has been working with the
search and rescue dogs.  This is a pretty intensive piece of what we are
doing here.  Our morning started out at 4 AM so that we would be ready
to receive the dogs at 5.  I say we, obviously the others are doing all
of the work and I am typing this e-mail.  From my vantage point, it has
been amazing to watch the actions of your colleagues.  Small and large
animal clinicians, techs and students are all pitching in to get the
animals taken care of.  Care of the search and rescue dogs primarily
revolve around fluid therapy and dealing with the wear and tear of
working across rough and hot terrain.  It is pretty impressive to see
how TTF-1 treats these dogs.  They are not tools of the trade, they are
team members and receive the same care and respect as their human
counter-parts.  I really cannot say enough about TTF-1.  They are a
truly impressive group who are as concerned about the animals they find
as the other aspects of their job.  They work in incredibly difficult
conditions but never lose their sympathy for those people and animals
affected by this wildfire.

I think, particularly as this is 9/11, that this update should be a bit
different than the others.  I want to try and provide a sense of what it
is like here.  Imagine a surreal, black landscape with virtually
everything burned.  The area we are working in now was apparently much
hotter than where we were previously.  It is black all the way to the
tree-tops.  Homes, cars, people's belongings and life-time accumulations
are in ashes.  They have lost virtually everything.  Now imagine the
animals, the ones we are seeing come in with singed hair and burns on
their lower limbs.  Can you imagine what they went through, how they
survived?  It is our collective duty as a society and a profession to
take care of their needs.  They are important.  They may be all that a
family has left of their former life. 

Now a bit more about the emergency responders.  I will mention several
of the groups that are on the ground and working through the ashes.  I
have talked a lot about TTF-1 over the years.  Simply watching them work
is an honor.  Their days consist of working in extremely difficult
conditions.  Their protective gear makes their days much hotter and more
difficult but keeps them safe.  They keep pushing because they care.  I
think we all should take a moment to consider just how special these
teams are.  We probably all remember watching the twin towers rescue
efforts on television and were probably all struck with the sense that
these were special people.  They are.  They are around us every day.
One of the very best units is housed right in College Station.  We are
blessed.  There are other fire-fighting and search and rescue groups
here as well.  Imagine a fire truck pulling up and out jumps a
fire-fighter with an injured animal in their hands.  We have been
experiencing this each day.

I also have to mention the animal search and rescue team members.  We
have worked primarily with Austin and Bastrop Animal Control units.
They too work in difficult conditions.  They have sympathy, they care
and they are professionals.  It is an honor for our team to serve them.

Your colleagues, veterinarians, technicians, staff and students,
pitching in to support emergency response efforts.  It has been pretty
special to watch them in action and I struggle to express just how proud
I am of them.  Their days are alternating periods of intensity and
quiet.  They are professional, they do excellent work, and they care.
It is humbling to be among a very special group of professionals.  I
include all of you who have committed your time and expertise to this
effort.  I include each and every veterinarian, technician, staff member
and student who is willing to serve.  Deployed or not, you all are my

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