Every so often you find a gem. Not often as good news is very under reported. Natural disasters like bush fires are certainly very tragic and often on social media people comment on the damage inflicted on animals. These people have really come up with something that helps a little. All power to them.
Inflatable veterinary field hospital launched ahead of South Australia’s fire season
An inflatable veterinary field hospital that will help animals injured by natural disasters has been launched in South Australia just weeks out from the state’s annual fire danger season.
Said to be the first of its kind in Australia, the tunnel-shaped structure resembling a Nissen hut will house SA Veterinary Emergency Management (SAVEM) staff.
“During the Sampson Flat bushfire of 2015, we saw probably close to 1,000 animals over an eight-week period,” SAVEM’s Rachel Westcott said.
“Many of those were wildlife, mainly kangaroos and koalas, but we did see all species such as horses, dogs, cats, reptiles, other pets, as well as cattle and sheep.”
Dr Westcott said the most common injuries were burns to feet and hooves.
“Kangaroos can have catastrophic injuries to their feet, while livestock can have burnt hooves as well as burns to their whole body,” she said.
“At the Pinery bushfire, animals that were in canola stubble died because the fire was so hot.”
Dr Westcott said smoke inhalation was another common and sometimes fatal condition that could be treated with antibiotics, pain relief, anti-inflammatories, and by “making sure they were well hydrated” by using IV fluids.
“Lots of horses had smoke injuries in the Pinery fire because the smoke was so dense it was like night time where they were.”
The $30,000 field hospital was financed by The Hackett Foundation.
‘Normal’ fire danger season ahead
Country Fire Service chief officer Greg Nettleton said indications so far pointed to a “normal” season start, which last year began in October for some districts.
“In saying that, we’ve had a number of fires up in the APY Lands over the last few weeks, but that’s pretty typical for this time of year.”
He said the CFS was forecasting a regular fire danger season ahead, although there were a few areas “where the probability might be a bit higher”.
This included the Mid-North and Flinders districts, as well as the APY Lands.
“In the Adelaide Hills, we’re looking at a fairly normal summer, whatever that might be.”
Governor Hieu Van Le was present to support the hospital’s launch.
“They deserve a lot of acknowledgment because this work is so vital and so important,” he said.
“When something happens, people look after more importantly the people, but the animals are a part of that too.”
Improved SAVEM capability welcomed
Mr Nettleton said the “beauty” of the inflatable veterinary field hospital was its capability to be “set up quite rapidly”.
“With Sampson Flat, they had to find somewhere to work out of, and that was the Kersbrook footy changerooms, but with this, I can see them pulling into an area and setting up really, really quickly and getting to work fast,” he said.
“It’s a good, positive step.”
Dr Westcott said “the tent” would be set up away from staging areas, such as those operated by the CFS, where it was “a little quieter and the animals aren’t as stressed”.
“We can deploy very quickly into an area and have our own dedicated space set up straight away, with our control centre and our treatment centre in the one structure,” she said.
“We can treat and triage them and then arrange to have them sent off-site to other veterinary clinics to other owners or carers.
“The big advantage is not having to share a staging area.”
Dr Westcott said people could bring animals to them, but they would also respond to information about where injured animals might be located and conduct surveillance for unowned animals and wildlife or those wandering if fences were down.
She said staff were also able to assist the Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) in its response to livestock injuries.
“We have vets in our teams that are familiar with all species of animals,” Dr Westcott said.
“As far as I know, this is the first of its kind in Australia because SAVEM is the only veterinary emergency-trained agency in the country.”
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