Grant provides local first responders with knowledge, tools essential to handle accidents involving livestock.

February 15, 2024

3 Min Read
National Pork Board

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is furthering its partnership with Michigan State University Extension by helping to accelerate the progress being made through the Emergency Response to Accidents Involving Livestock Program. Over the next three years, through a grant of over $460,000, MDARD is funding 25 ERAIL training sessions, eight new ERAIL trailers, and the purchase of equipment to outfit those trailers all with the goal of helping local communities better respond to incidents involving livestock.

Every year, millions of animals are on the move. Over 200,000 trucks transport livestock to Michigan from other states and Canada as well as move animals within the state. Unfortunately, there will likely be an accident involving one of these vehicles at some point in time, and those responding to the incident cannot solely rely on those passing by who are willing to lend a helping hand. Responders need to be equipped with the appropriate tools and training to best evaluate the situation, coordinate solutions, and handle the affected animals.

"When livestock are part of an accident, the situation becomes much more complex,"  said Brad Deacon, MDARD emergency management coordinator. "This is an important investment for our first responders and the Michigan livestock industry."

The ERAIL Program is a comprehensive training and response program spearheaded by MSU Extension in partnership with MDARD and with additional support from Michigan Pork Producers Association, United Dairy Industry of Michigan, Michigan Commercial Beekeepers Association and Michigan Beekeepers Association. Through a multi-layered approach including trainings with hands-on learning opportunities, the establishment of a fleet of specialized emergency response trailers, and individual consultations, the program serves to educate and prepare first responders to assist in any emergency involving livestock.

"To best protect animal health and welfare, local responders need the experience and equipment to properly handle the situation and not create further safety risks to the animals, staff, or general public,"  said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland "The trailers and training provided through the ERAIL Program helps build a foundation for preparedness, strengthening an area's capacity for an effective response."

The program trains responders in critical aspects of farm animal behavior and the characteristics of livestock trucks as well as promotes the acquisition of specialized response trailers stocked with portable gates, handling equipment for various types of animals, safety equipment, and other tools to help with livestock in an accident.

"So far, MSU Extension professionals have taught more than 700 first responders throughout Michigan how to react after a traffic crash that involves animals,"  said Quentin Tyler, director of MSU Extension. "Proper animal handling whether it's two horses or 500 pigs is imperative for keeping both animals and people safe on the roads."

To date, the ERAIL program has placed three fully equipped response trailers in Branch, Jackson and Otsego counties, with more to come as program continues. In 2023, the current trailers were deployed twice to help manage incidents.

For more information on the ERAIL program, please visit the ERAIL Program page on MSU Extension's website and view MDARD's video.

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