Developing an Emergency Response Plan for Your Livestock Facility

The best strategy for minimising the impact of emergencies may be prevention, according to Tom Guthrie (extension educator, Pork Team in Jackson, Michigan), writing in MSU Quarterly Pork Quarterly.
calendar icon 20 July 2010
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Are you prepared? Even though we may choose not to think about it, disaster can strike on the best managed farms. As we are all aware, we cannot possibly be on-site continuously and emergencies can happen at any time. Being prepared can save valuable time in the instance of a true emergency. The best strategy for minimising the impact of emergencies very well may be prevention.

When we think about prevention, it can consist of two main elements: planning (training) and awareness (inspection). Therefore, having a plan in place to deal with emergencies may be the best option for everyone involved including your animals. Additionally, one of the topics the Pork Quality Assurance Plus Site Assessment covers is emergency support.

The following is a relatively short list of items that you may consider when developing an emergency response plan for your livestock facility.

Location of the Written Plan

A written emergency plan should be placed outside of the respective facility in plain view where it can be easily located (fence post, telephone pole, etc). The written plan should be placed in some sort of container that is waterproof (pvc tube, mailbox, etc.). In addition, this waterproof container should be properly marked or identified so that, for example, someone who may not be particularly familiar with the facility can contact the appropriate personnel at any given time in case of an emergency. It does no one any good to have the plan tucked away in the office filing cabinet or located where no one can find it.

General Facility Information Record

Items to consider when developing a general facility information record should include:

  1. Owner/operator name
    1. address, phone number
  2. Facility Information
    1. name of facility
    2. address, phone number
    3. directions to the facility from the nearest major intersection
  3. Supplemental emergency contact persons
    1. Second contact person - address, phone number
    2. Third contact person - address, phone number
  4. Veterinarian (optional)
    1. phone number
  5. Emergency response contact phone numbers (Local)
    1. Ambulance (EMS)
    2. Fire department
    3. County Sherriff
  6. Emergency response contact phone numbers (State)
    1. Michigan Department of Agriculture
  7. Map of Facility – this map may show the location of hazardous materials, fuel storage, electric panels, etc. etc.

Fire emergency response sheet

  1. Farm Fire Protection District and phone number
  2. Address of the facility
  3. Size and type of operation
  4. Fuel stored at the location
    1. List fuels and quantity
  5. Propane gas company
    1. Name and phone number
  6. Hazardous materials
    1. Location and list

Power outage information sheet

  1. Electrical power
    1. company name and phone
    2. size of electrical service
  2. Generator
    1. instructions on how to use it
    2. location
  3. Electricians
    1. names and phone numbers

Discharge or Spill Emergency Response Plan

In regard to a manure spill or discharge, the action plan usually involves the recognition and assessment of the problem, containment, notification of authorities and enlistment of help to correct the problem.

In the event of an agricultural pollution emergency, such as a chemical/fertilizer spill, manure spill or breach, etc., the Michigan Department of Agriculture and/or Michigan Department of Environmental Quality should be contacted at the following emergency telephone numbers:

  1. Michigan Department of Agriculture: (800) 405-0101
  2. Michigan Department of Environmental Quality: (800) 292-4706

Emergency Equipment Suppliers and Contacts

This list may include equipment that is available 24 hours a day and should include primary contacts and phone numbers. Equipment suppliers to consider in this instance may be livestock transporters, a backhoe, bulldozer, vacuum slurry tank, irrigation pumps, or any others that may be applicable.

Pre-Arranged Emergency Response Agreements

In order to deal with an emergency efficiently, it may be necessary to have prior arrangements made with other individuals. This may include the use of equipment, access to land base, information about business hours etc.

In conclusion, when developing a written emergency action plan, it is important that the plan covers a variety of emergencies that may be encountered. Furthermore, it is also imperative that you write the plan to be site-specific for each respective site. Developing these plans may be viewed as time-consuming and tedious but they are essential and necessary.

If you encounter an emergency at your farm, will you be prepared?

July 2010

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