May is typically a slow month in terms of natural disasters. But inevitably disasters and those affected will be in the news and on our minds in the near future. So, it is the perfect time to practice emergency plans, brainstorm and learn with other organizations, and prepare for the future.
At the beginning of the month Jess Farr, PAWS’ Program Director represented Teton County’s Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (V.O.A.D.) at the Mountain West VOAD Regional Conference in Boise, Idaho. The theme of the conference was , “Together We Serve.” A conference highlight session titled, “How to prepare for everything,” presented by Crisis Clean Up, concluded that everyone’s interpretation of disaster is different, as well as one’s needs before, during, and after are diverse; therefore, how we prepare within our family unit should be unique. You can follow a general checklist to start, but that’s what a generalized checklist should be, just a start. Next year Jackson has been chosen as the conference’s location and all residents and organizations are invited to attend. For more info on 2020’s Mountain West VOAD Conference: https://www.mwvoad.org/
PAWS of Jackson Hole falls within Teton County’s Emergency Management Incident Command System to provide Emergency Sheltering for the pets of Teton County, WY and Teton County, ID. On May 11th, some of our volunteer team members got together for a full- size live exercise of shelter set up, pet intake, daily operation, and breakdown. A few cooperative community members volunteered as actresses bringing in pets, donations, and volunteer inquiries to test our Shelter Team. Live canine and feline actors were present as shelter clients. The feline actors were the least cooperative of the bunch, as you could imagine. Rich Ochs of Teton County Emergency Management observed our process and facilitated a debriefing of how our operation can (and will) improve. After a 90-minute-long session of suggestions, improvements, brainstorming and pizza eating, Rich asked our team a question, “Do you feel more prepared to set up an Emergency Shelter after this exercise?” A unanimous “YES,” chimed from all attending team members.
In order to best serve our community’s pets and people, we ask that you have an up to date copy of vaccination records for your pet on hand to bring with you when your pet needs emergency sheltering. These records will aid our team in providing the best care for your pet. Our DART team also asks that pets arrive at the Emergency Shelter on leash/ in cat carrier in order to ensure the safety of the pets, the public, and our volunteer team members. We will be updating our website soon to include a general checklist (remember what general checklists are for) to help you start planning for what your pet needs to use our Emergency Shelter if the DART team is called upon.