Animal facilities may be subject to unexpected conditions that result in the catastrophic failure of critical systems or significant personnel absenteeism, or other unexpected events that severely compromise ongoing animal care and well-being (ILAR 2010). Facilities must therefore have a disaster plan. The plan should define the actions necessary to prevent animal pain, distress, and deaths due to loss of systems such as those that control ventilation, cooling, heating, or provision of potable water. If possible the plan should describe how the facility will preserve animals that are necessary for critical research activities or are irreplaceable. Knowledge of the geographic locale may provide guidance as to the probability of a particular type of disaster.

Disaster plans should be established in conjunction with the responsible investigator(s), taking into consideration both the priorities for triaging animal populations and the institutional needs and resources. Animals that cannot be relocated or protected from the consequences of the disaster must be humanely euthanized. The disaster plan should identify essential personnel who should be trained in advance in its implementation. Efforts should be taken to ensure personnel safety and provide access to essential personnel during or immediately after a disaster. Such plans should be approved by the institution and be part of the overall institutional disaster response plan that is coordinated by the IO or another senior-level administrator. Law enforcement and emergency personnel should be provided with a copy of the plan for comment and integration into broader, areawide planning (Vogelweid 1998).


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AVMA [American Veterinary Medical Association]. 2008. Introduction to Ergonomics Guidelines for Veterinary Practice. April. Available at www.avma.org/issues/policy/ergonomics.asp; accessed May 10, 2010.

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