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International large Animal Rescue Conference_ Dr Chris Heislers Victorian Bushfires 2009 experiences
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International large Animal Rescue Conference_ Dr Chris Heislers Victorian Bushfires 2009 experiences

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Presentation given by Dr Chris Heislers of http://thevetsurgery.com.au/ given at the International Large Animal Rescue Conference, University of Adelaide, Roseworthy, South Australia …

Presentation given by Dr Chris Heislers of http://thevetsurgery.com.au/ given at the International Large Animal Rescue Conference, University of Adelaide, Roseworthy, South Australia http://www.horsesa.asn.au/home/emergency/large-animal-rescue/


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  • Direct burns
    Radiant heat sensitive areas
  • Transcript

    • 1. Victorian Bushfires. Chris Heislers Veterinarian The Veterinary Surgery Yarrambat & North Warrandyte. February 7, 2009
    • 2. Constraints to the animal welfare response. Council Media
    • 3. How do horses generally cope with bushfire?
    • 4. Health Impacts. • • • • • • • Pulmonary Ophthalmic Renal Laminitis Dehydration Burns • Direct • Radiant heat • Lower limbs • Ventral body • Face • Perineum Pain
    • 5. What we learnt... Horses cope well, heal well. The reactive flight response of horses is protective. • Horses left in large paddocks with low pasture and vegetation cope best. • Ultimate severity of burns is unpredictable from initial presentation, and may not be apparent until up to eight weeks later. • Compared with stable fires, respiratory effects are minimal. • Even with extensive full thickness burns, secondary effects including severe infection, dehydration and renal failure are relatively uncommon. • Severe coronary band damage is generally reversible. • Basic principles of wound management applied to burns yields good results. • ie. First principles and common sense. Long term behavioural impacts?? •
    • 6. What we learnt... The reactive flight response of horses is protective. • Horses cope well, heal well. • Horses left in large paddocks with low pasture and vegetation cope best. • Basic principles of wound management applied to burns yields good results. ie. First principles and common sense. Even with extensive full thickness burns, secondary effects including severe infection, dehydration and renal failure are relatively uncommon. • • Ultimate severity of burns is unpredictable from initial presentation, and may not be apparent until up to eight weeks later. • • Severe coronary band damage is generally reversible. Compared with stable fires, respiratory effects are minimal. • Long term behavioural impacts??
    • 7. Recommendations to regulators... That animal welfare becomes a priority. • A coordinated animal welfare response must be a principal part of emergency responses. • A veterinarian experienced with that species be present or consulted prior to destruction of any livestock or companion animal. DPI be responsible for any “large” animal emergency animal response and to take responsibility for coordinating responses to all farm animals including all horses. • • • • That radio services place as an important priority attempts to convey important animal welfare / first aid advice from local veterinarians. • That DPI consult with veterinarians to develop an effective emergency response plan. To facilitate an emergency response, DPI should utilise established local expertise. A single point of contact for all owners, donors and service providers be provided and well advertised animal welfare / first ai advice from local veterinarians.
    • 8. What’s changed? “The Emergency Management Act does not address animal welfare... “There does not appear to be a coordinated approach to animal welfare during relief operations. Improving agency coordination would help to provide more effective relief to all animals regardless of whether they are wildlife, stock, companion animals or pets.” RECOMMENDATION 10.5 Victoria Police, in consultation with CFA and DSE, review the guidelines for the operation of roadblocks during bushfires, including how to: Are we any better off?
    • 9. In south-east Australia, the frequency of very high and extreme fire danger days is expected to rise by 15-70 per cent by 2050. The fire season is expected to lengthen. 2012 IPCC Special Report for Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation
    • 10. The Emergency Management Act does not address animal welfare. The Emergency Management Manual Victoria also does not specifically address animal welfare after bushfire under the State Emergency Recovery Arrangements. Under Part 7, which sets out the ‘Emergency Management Agency Roles’, DPI is nominated as the primary agency for support services for animal welfare and the RSPCA and DSE are secondary agencies. The RSPCA estimated that over 1 million animals were killed in the fires. The most common injuries to animals were from wounds sustained while escaping the fires, burns and smoke inhalation.166 The Victorian Association of Forest Industries estimated that millions of native animals and birds were killed, either during the fires or from starvation or predation after the fires.167 The Department of Primary Industries manages large-scale immediate rural recovery including animal welfare services. DPI identified animal welfare as a high priority after the fires and sought additional resources from interstate to assist with the inspection of properties. They assessed 4,700 properties for losses and estimated that more than 8,000 farm animals were killed, either directly by the fires or euthanased. 168 There does not appear to be a coordinated approach to animal welfare during relief operations. Improving agency coordination would help to provide more effective relief to all animals regardless of whether they are wildlife, stock, companion animals or pets. REPORT 17 August 2009: RECOMMENDATION 10.5 Victoria Police, in consultation with CFA and DSE, review the guidelines for the operation of roadblocks during bushfires, including how to: • formulate the terms of a discretion to police on roadblocks to allow entry to: − residents returning to their homes; − people delivering relief and aid to residents and to animals; − essential services crews; and • expedite the exercise of the discretion in favour of persons able to establish their bona fides.
    • 11. EXPERIENCES WITH HORSES AFFECTED BY THE BUSHFIRES IN VICTORIA, FEBRUARY 2009 Suzanne Craddock, Chris Heislers & Andrew Lynch (Yarrambat Veterinary Hospital), Maxine Brain (Kilmore Equine Hospital). Parts of Victoria were devastated by bushfires on 7th February 2009. Along with the human and property losses, there was a massive toll on local animals. Many affected horses were in areas serviced by our practices. This presentation outlines the clinical symptoms observed, the progression of those symptoms, the responses to treatment and the outcomes. Approximately 100 horses were seen in the days and weeks following the fires, these being largely from paddock situations in semi cleared regions. Many horses died or were euthanased by council rangers before our access to the affected areas. Presentations included burns (mainly to the lower half of the body and face), respiratory conditions (from heat, smoke or ash), dehydration, laminitis and renal failure. The degree of burn injury was sometimes not fully apparent until days, weeks, even months after the fires. This included superficial to full thickness skin loss, coronet separation, deep muscle necrosis, tendon sloughing and joint breakdown. Many severe burns resulted from radiant heat rather than from direct burns. Treatment regimes were aimed at pain relief, wound management and supportive care, sometimes for prolonged periods. Pain relief was generally by systemic NSAIDs however systemic opioids, ketamine constant rate infusion and opioid epidurals were sometimes used. Wound management generally was by antibacterial treatment, wound debridement, wound creams, bandaging where possible and restriction of movement when appropriate. In the early stages oral fluids were mostly adequate for hydration. Based on client information and the post fire environment, we have been unable to definitively explain the survival of some horses compared to others, or of the range of severity of burns to animals in seemingly similar circumstances. It is assumed that the degree of tissue sloughing was related to the length of time of exposure and the temperatures during that exposure. It would appear that horses generally had some form of positive instinctive behavioural responses that helped with their survival. We found that commitment to intensive nursing care is paramount to treating severe burns cases. This commitment generally gave a favorable outcome. Deep coronet damage will generally heal after severe burns. High doses of NSAID’s in conjunction with gastric protectants will be tolerated for prolonged periods in these circumstances. Wound care principles can be successfully followed in these cases, but the full extent of tissue damage is difficult to evaluate in the initial stages.

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