By Rita Thompson Tinsley
If you are at all familiar with the Yavapai County equestrian community, then you will not be surprised that when faced with peril and the demand of putting together an emergency evacuation program, they will come to the table (and the stable) with all the right plans and resources.
EEE, as it is called, has a mission, and that mission is to provide the best possible outcomes for large animals affected by disaster in Yavapai County.
The organization is a 501(c)3 tax exempt entity and enlists an all-volunteer crew dedicated to assist equine owners in the event of wildfire and other emergencies. Furthermore, they serve as a Community Organization Active in Disasters (COAD) which is a FEMA designation.
The volunteers operate at the direction of Yavapai County Emergency Management which allows them to obtain permissions from the county’s Sheriff’s Office Incident Command to transport large animals out of evacuated areas. What does all this mean?
EEE has designed strategies and processes, adopted practices from existing large animal evacuation groups that deem effective in order to provide efficient help for the Yavapai County equestrian community. But this takes vital reciprocal steps and responsibility from the horse community in return.
It is important that horse owners make themselves familiar with EEE and their procedures so that the organization is better able to do their job in an emergency. Equine Emergency Evacuation provides owner awareness programs as well as incident preparation and planning resources.
In emergency situations, EEE has over 25 designated staging areas situated around Yavapai County that can be used as a base of operations near the site of the Incident Command (a management system designed to enable effective, efficient incident management by integrating a combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications within an organizational structure).
In the case of smaller incidents, it is a somewhat different setup. Dispatchers are assigned to receive calls on the EEE Emergency Hotline. Henceforth, as a virtual team, they direct evacuation vehicles to the specified locations where needed.
Many times, the animal’s owner has a pre-planned location for their animal to be delivered, a method highly recommended.
What can you do as a responsible equestrian to be fully prepared?
You may be surprised to know that many horse owners do not have a horse trailer to evacuate their animals. As an all-volunteer program, EEE has limited operational capabilities. You should NOT rely on them or the county for evacuation.
The Equine Emergency Evacuation website, eeeyc.org, has an ideal Check List for you to follow BEFORE an emergency occurs.
Equine Emergency Evacuation List
1. Sign up for the Sheriff’s “Ready, Set, Go” advisory system.
2. Review the “Disaster Planning Guidelines” and “Disaster Planning Worksheet”.
3. Review the Check Lists for you, your family and you animals.
4. If you have a trailer, you can make arrangements with a friend to take animals to their place.
5. Practice loading your animals.
6. If you don’t have a trailer or you have more animals than trailer space, talk to a neighbor or friend who can help you.
7. Form a Neighborhood Group to assist one another.
8. Know in advance what you are going to do with your animals and yourself.
9. In wildfire season, have your trailer ready to be hooked up and keep truck fueled.
10. Give yourself plenty of time. It takes substantial time to load your animals and be ready to depart. Wildfires can move very fast.
11. Keep the EEE Emergency Hotline phone number handy (833-922-9333).
12. Do not call the EEE Emergency Hotline for non-evacuation situations.
The objective of EEE is to provide flexible and responsive evacuations as the circumstance dictates. Your familiarity with their procedures and operations coupled with your knowledge of a current emergency, will prove invaluable for the greater safety of you and your animals. And you know we all love a happy ending.