The California Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps Needs RVTs

November/December 2009 California Veterinarian

RVT News

RVTs are valuable members of a disaster response team because they bring their special knowledge, skills, and experience to veterinary medical teams responding to a disaster. Relying on their animal handling experience and other skills, they may be called upon during a disaster to assist veterinarians in the care and treatment of evacuated and rescued animals and provide routine animal care.

The CVMA encourages RVTs to volunteer for the California Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps (CAVMRC), the CVMA’s disaster response program. The CAVMRC provides veterinary professionals with the training and credentialing necessary to support animal health and public health emergency response.

RVTS who want to volunteer for disaster response should not self-deploy, but become part of a system that government agencies and nongovernmental partners have developed to coordinate efforts.   RVTs should join a local or state response team, if possible, and train with other responders. Deployment under the CAVMRC is always voluntary. 

During a disaster, an RVT performs duties “similar to what an Emergency Technician does,” says Marlene Lane, RVT, a member of the CVMA’s Disaster Preparedness Committee.  “You need to be able to make very fast evaluations as to whether an animal can survive in the short term.  In many cases there won’t be any long term care for the animal so you have to make hard choices, not only for one animal, but in some public health cases for many animals, and for any species of animal.”

RVTs helping after a disaster will meet a variety of new people, from multiple agencies at various levels (e.g., military, police, media, lawyers), and work with the public. Persons successful in this endeavor will need “people skills,” such as being good listeners, offering supportive advice, and being positive and friendly. They should also show a willingness to do whatever needs to be done – such as setting up cages, reuniting animals with their owners, and providing other public health and veterinary care under the guidance of state and/or local authorities.

RVTs can help provide a well-organized service in a time of need as they help sick animals. Join the CAVMRC and help make it an operational success – the experience will be rewarding and enjoyable, with the added bonus of helping others in a community.

To join the CAVMRC, register at the Disaster Healthcare Volunteers website:  There, fill out the form and check “YES” to be contacted and provided with information about joining an MRC team and select the California Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps. Contact CAVMRC Unit Coordinator Grant Miller, DVM at or 916-649-0599 for more information.

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