By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest
A recent article published by CNN reported that snake bites are on the rise in the United States. In one case, a 12-year-old girl was bitten by a copperhead as she walked out of her front door. The Poison Center in North Carolina has also reported a jump in snake bites.
In an article published in 2005, experts reported an increase in animal-related fatalities. Such incidents are cause for concern for 911 emergency responders.
Animal-related injuries, especially from venomous snakes, can be particularly serious. The increasing incidents of snake bites in the United States make it more important than ever for emergency personnel to train and refresh their understanding of how to handle such injuries.
Collaborating with Fish and Wildlife Departments
In Collaboration and Leadership for Effective Emergency Management, authors William L Waugh Jr. and Gregory Streib emphasize that collaboration and leadership are fundamental components of emergency management. Without the appropriate collaboration among departments, it is difficult to effectively manage a disaster given the amount of personnel and resources needed.
When it comes to animal-related injuries, it is particularly important for emergency managers to collaborate with animal control and fish/wildlife departments. This collaboration not only helps to educate the public and first responders how to prevent animal-related injuries, but it also gives emergency managers the opportunity to connect with the public.
Also, collaboration can be a public relations opportunity to interest the public in emergency management opportunities. In addition, it can be used as a way to educate local citizens about how to better prepare for disasters.
Reviewing and Updating Existing Emergency Plans
One of the most important aspects of emergency management is maintaining up-to-date plans for handling animal-related emergencies. When policies or incident occurrences change, emergency managers must consider how those revisions affect their existing plans.
For instance, an increase in snake bite injuries across the country means that their departments are likely to be called to such emergencies. As a result, advance planning for these emergencies ensures prompt treatment for victims.
In-Service Training Is Important
In-service training is one of the most important things emergency agencies can do to prepare for a potential increase in snake bite victims. Reviewing the snake habitat of an area is particularly important in determining whether venomous snakes are indigenous.
However, it is also essential to consider bites from exotic snakes and possibly rabid animals, and how to handle these emergencies. In-service training sessions help emergency personnel to find and correct any treatment gaps in their overall plans.
It is increasingly important for emergency managers to educate area residents about public health issues and natural disasters. Ideally, these relationships should be established with the public before there is a large-scale emergency.