Key players from Central Tablelands Local Land Services have been put through their paces at the Cowra saleyards to ensure they’re ready in the unwelcome event of a real disease outbreak unfolding.
The message from the Emergency Management Exercise is clear, “this exercise has confirmed we are well prepared and ready to tackle the logistics of a real biosecurity disaster,” declared Local Land Services District Veterinarian Amy Masters, one of the key organisers of the training scenario.
“There are a large number of diseases currently on the official Emergency Animal Disease list. Some are exotic, and so far have fortunately never been found in this country, while others have previously been diagnosed in Australia.”
“Many of these diseases could have a devastating impact on livestock industries, rural communities, international trade, and even our tourism sector, so these training scenarios are hugely important in making sure we have the skills and knowledge to quickly identify and contain a disease outbreak.”
The hypothetical event was set at 11:15 am on the day of a sheep sale in Cowra, with 10,000 sheep yarded and selling underway.
In the fictional scenario, Saleyards Manager Bob Bowd was doing the rounds of the yard when he discovered a sheep with sores that appeared suspiciously similar to the symptoms of foot and mouth disease.
Cowra Saleyards management, local livestock agents, Cowra Council, NSW Police, the Rural Fire Service, SES crews, Cowra Meat Processors and private veterinarians from the Cowra Veterinary Centre all took part in the exercise.
“We worked through complex decisions about reporting and managing a suspected disease outbreak, and the real life logistics that we would need to deal with on the ground,” explained Amy Masters.
“We looked at everything from the decontamination of working dogs, through to decisions about how to safely dispose of livestock carcases without creating an environmental or biosecurity hazard.”
According to Dr Masters, the key message to come out of the training scenario, is that Local Land Services, and other key industry players are well prepared and highly skilled, but people working in the livestock sector should never be complacent about the potentially disastrous implications of a significant animal disease outbreak.