Mock response at local saleyards

July 07, 2017

What would we have to do if a national livestock standstill was declared?

That was the question confronting government personnel, saleyard managers, local government representatives and NSW Police members at an emergency exercise in Finley on June 29.

More than 40 people participated in Exercise Loch Fyne, which focused on the scenario of a national livestock standstill and its implications if declared during a sale at Finley Saleyards.

Such a situation would occur if an emergency animal disease (EAD) such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) was discovered anywhere across the country.

District veterinarian Mark Corrigan, who was part of the organising team, said the scenario was designed to force participants to think about the actions required to restrict livestock and vehicle movement to and from the saleyards to prevent any possible spread of disease.

‘‘This is a complex situation that requires a lot of forethought and planning, so it’s important that we raise awareness of these types of scenarios to ensure people know what their roles and responsibilities are if this situation arises,’’ he said.

‘‘Being prepared for an emergency animal disease such as FMD is vitally important to reduce the potential impacts on the rural economy and our export markets.’’

The exercise was attended by the NSW chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss, who travelled from Orange.

She said her role was to bring the state and national perspective to the exercise.

‘‘If we had a national standstill, I would sit on a group with the other chief vets, and we’d be advising ministers of what actions need to be taken, so it’s really good to be able to play that perspective into the exercise,’’ she said.

‘‘What has really excited me is that everybody’s taken ownership of the problem and tried to work out how they would address it and what they would do working as a team.’’

The second part of the scenario involved the fictitious declaration of an infected premises at the saleyards, which further tested the participants’ abilities to solve problems under pressure.

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