Rescuers use teddy bears to train

Last weekend, AEV, a group I train with made the local news on KUSA-TV.

BAILEY – Stuffed animals are helping rescuers prepare for any disaster.

On Saturday, The Colorado State Animal Response Team (SART) prepared for wildfire season in Park County. The group’s motto is “Any disaster. Any animal. Anywhere.”

“(We are) going through the motions so that when it actually does happen you have some experience of doing it, it’s not completely foreign,” said Dianna Whitlock with Animal EVAC Volunteers.

Volunteers had to find specific houses and then rescue a list of “pets.” They would find stuffed animals hiding behind rocks or in tall grasses.

“When there is a fire or another disaster, it is going to be very stressful. We’ll be dealing with live animals, not stuffed animals, and it kind of helps to have some knowledge of how it worked,” Whitlock said.

SART is working to establish more training programs around the state. The group says it is critical to be ready to protect people and animals during natural disasters or terror attacks.

“It’s been shown with Katrina and a lot of these other big disasters that people will not evacuate if they can’t take their animals with them,” Whitlock said.

The program was started in North Carolina after Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Countless animals were victims of the flooding.

As a result, several state agencies came together to put a plan in place for the next disaster. Volunteers helped evacuate many animals during the Hayman fire in 2002.

Colorado’s program is part of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Foundation. SART is forging a statewide coalition between state government, non-government organizations, industry and volunteers.

There will be seven training sessions in the month of June around the state.

The group is looking for more volunteers.

To see the video:

(Copyright KUSA*TV)

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