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Disaster Preparedness

Indiana's Veterinary Medical Response Corps (VMRC)

Want to make a difference in your community for animals and their owners? Volunteer to be part of Indiana’s Veterinary Medical Response Corps (VMRC).

Indiana: Leading the Way in Planning for Animals

In 1995, Indiana became the first state in the nation to include animals as part of the state's official emergency management plan for floods, tornadoes and other large-scale disasters. What began as the SAVE (State Annex for Veterinary Emergencies) program evolved into the Animal Surveillance Emergency Response Team (ASERT) to address needs for high-consequence animal health emergencies. Today Indiana maintains a registered Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps (VMRC) that supports coordination of efforts to evacuate, rescue, treat and shelter animals in distress.

Learn more about Indiana Rural Emergency Preparedness (Purdue Extension): https://extension.purdue.edu/INPREPared/

What is the VMRC?

Veterinary and animal care professionals are vital to animals during disasters. The mission of the Indiana VMRC is to serve the citizens of Indiana as an organized team of animal health volunteers who supply veterinary and animal care skills, knowledge and expertise in support of animal-related all-hazards response to emergencies and disasters, including high-consequence disease and natural or man-made events. BOAH strives to identify, develop and provide relevant training tools and resources for members, including opportunities to exercise and train, while encouraging community involvement.

The VMRC could be called upon to respond anywhere in the state of Indiana. Individually, a member may be called upon to serve within a district, by a state or local government agency during an emergency. Deployment is always voluntary. Volunteers can participate at whatever level works for them during an event–assistants are needed as well as leaders. In special circumstances, Indiana VMRC veterinarians could be asked to assist/provide some medical services to human patients.

VMRC/ASERT Fact Sheet

Benefits of joining the Indiana VMRC

The VMRC provides team members:

  • Credentialing necessary to support animal health and public health emergency response.
  • Continuing education and training opportunities to strengthen skills to better serve a practice, a community and our state.
  • Networking and information-sharing opportunities with team members across Indiana.

Examples of possible missions/roles include:

  • Promote public and client education and awareness about disaster preparedness
  • Respond to natural disasters, such as floods, tornadoes, and winter storms
  • Assist with sheltering and caring for animals during an emergency
  • Work with local emergency management officials to support local efforts
  • Assist with disease detection and response during high-consequence disease situations
  • Participate in local, district and state exercises and training activities
  • Assist with local animal welfare situations
  • Provide guidance to government policy makers
  • Pilot use of new technologies

Within each of these examples, VMRC members may be called upon for many tasks such as animal care and treatment, evacuation, vaccination, specimen collection, decontamination, euthanasia, necropsy, collecting epidemiological information, supervisory or office support.

Who can join the Indiana VMRC? 

Members do not need any prior disaster response experience or training to join the Indiana VMRC. The greatest need is for:

  • Licensed veterinarians (both currently practicing and retired)
  • Registered veterinary technicians
  • Veterinary assistants
  • Animal control personnel and individuals with hands-on experience in kennels or shelters
  • Others who do not fall into one of the above categories—contact BOAH to learn more about other valuable skillsets such as office managers and other support staff members.

Program Affiliation 

BOAH manages the VMRC team roster in cooperation with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security as a unique public-private partnership. VMRC may interface with numerous local, state and federal agencies.

We would love to have you join the IN VMRC!

To be part of the Indiana VMRC, complete the form, then, email completed form to: animalhealth@boah.in.gov

VMRC Application

You will receive a confirmation ‘Welcome!’ email with a link to Serv-IN, the state’s official rostering database for volunteers. BOAH will also provide additional training and information resources.

Animal Issues in Disasters Training Course

The Animal Issues in Disasters course is a one-day course taught by the Indiana State Board of Animal Health staff to train local officials, first responders and potential volunteers about planning and response for animals during disasters.

Learn more at: www.in.gov/boah/disaster-preparedness-overview/animal-issues-in-disasters-course/