LSU Emergency Animal Shelter

Disaster Response Manual

Operational Phase

Command Center    Operations    Planning    Logistics    Finance   

Command Center

Command Center Overview
Incident Commander 
Command Center Coordinator

Public Information Officer
Safety Officer
Liaison Officer

Command Center Overview

Task, function or purpose

  • Serve as a meeting room for IC staff for planning
  • Establish communications
  • Set up office for operations
  • Site of storage of information related to incident
  • Briefing room for other agencies and groups
  • Organizational setup

Incident Commander 

Task, function or purpose

  • Establishes an Incident Command Post
  • Establishes mission statement
  • Establishes immediate goals
  • Liaison between overall IC

·         Supervises planning meetings

  • Ensures incident safety
  • Coordinates and approves activities of command and general staff
  • Approves the release of information to the public
  • Approves and implements the Incident Action Plan of the Day
  • Coordinates the end of the incident

Command center coordinator

Task, function or purpose

  • Assists with the administrative needs of the incident commander
  • Answers command center phones, screen calls and direct to the appropriate person
  • Faxes daily situation reports
  • Copying
  • Creates filing system; filing
  • Routes donations to the financial officer
  • Coordinates building maintenance
  • Processes out-of-state veterinarian applications
  • Order food and beverages
  • Arrange linen service
  • Records minutes of daily meetings
  • Makes pet shipping arrangements for pet owners in surrounding areas      
  • Locates foster care for exotic pets
  • Coordinates animal pick up with animal control
  • Supplies information to owners about their pets
  • Organizes document binder of standard operating procedure for all areas

Staffing requirements

  • Two people (ideally)
  • One person’s primary duty would be to answer the phones;  the second person would screen and direct information to the appropriate person, assist the incident commander and perform the other required tasks

Equipment needs

  • phone
  • computer
  • walkie-talkie
  • copy machine
  • basic office supplies

Operational needs

Important phone numbers to have readily available (home and cell numbers)

  • Incident Commander
  • The local state veterinarian office
  •  The local animal shelter
  • Foster/adoption coordinator
  • Front desk
  • Supplies
  • Receiving
  • Finances
  • Operations
  • Volunteers
  • Facilities
  • Media
  • Information technology
  • Triage
  • Local veterinarians in area

Records, forms, checklists, SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures)

  • Form or notebook to log incoming calls
  • Intake form for out-of-state veterinarians
  • SOPs for all shelter areas
  • Uniform phone list (rolodex)
  • Organizational chart
  • List of shelter area leaders, their primary responsibilities and their contact information

Organization and flow diagrams

Things that could be set up ahead of time

  • Organizational chart
  • Forms
  • Social worker contacts for advice on how to convey delicate information to pet owners

The LSU Experience:  Command Center

Public information officer 

Task, function or purpose: Communications between animal shelter and media (newspaper, radio, television) regarding shelter activities and needs

  • Write and distribute all media bulletins
  • Coordinate media interviews
  • Coordinate media bulletins with appropriate authorities (state veterinarian, USDA, CDC, etc.)
  • Establish shelter website

Operational tasks

  • At least one media person must attend daily briefing sessions to get current information
  • List contact information (phones, email) for primary media contact on website
  • Post media contact information and protocols around the shelter (including photos of official media spokespersons)
  • Establish list of veterinarians, technicians and others that can speak to the media as the situation unfolds
  • Establish list of contact information for all media that call, email, or conduct in-person interviews and create a media database
  • Keep a list of media contacts, the date of contact and the type of interview (telephone, email, on-camera)
  • Send weekly updates to appropriate agencies
  • Meet daily with shelter webmaster to communicate information to be added

Staffing requirements

  • Designate at least two spokespersons (primary and secondary)
  • Volunteers should be discouraged from speaking to the media unless the designated media contact is also present

Equipment needs

  • Phones
  • Computers
  • Internet access
  • Basic office supplies

Records, forms, checklists, SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures)

  • Poster with photos and contact information for media contacts to be posted around the shelter

Things that could be set up ahead of time

  • Identify potential media spokespersons; obtain their contact information (including home and cell phone numbers) and keep on file

Safety officer

Task, function or purpose: To provide the very best care for the animals in an emergency animal shelter (EAS) by ensuring a safe operating environment for all EAS personnel.

Goal: The EAS safety officer must (1) identify all potential safety hazards (2) communicate and train all EAS personnel in the appropriate procedures that will mitigate their exposure to these hazards (3) monitor EAS personnel’s compliance to these procedures, and (4) to report to the incident commander any safety “deficiencies” that are not immediately corrected

Operational needs

  • The EAS safety officer needs access to and support from the following personnel: (1) the incident commander, (2) the on-site EAS facility manager, (3) the EAS security liaison, (4) the EAS volunteer services liaison, and (5) the off-site institutional safety department
  • The EAS will generate hazardous chemical waste and biomedical waste.  This waste must be disposed of properly and those arrangements must be made before the EAS becomes operational
  • The EAS must have dedicated security on-site 24 hours a day

Staffing requirements

  • The EAS safety officer provides on-site day-to-day (8:00 am to 5:00 pm) safety oversight
  • After hours (5:01 pm to 7:59 am) safety oversight is provided by volunteers as designated by the incident commander

Equipment needs

  • Communications equipment (cell phone push-to-talk or two-way radio)
  • Access to IT services for Internet access and/or work processing

Records, forms, checklists, SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures)

  • A safety standard operating procedure (SOP) should be written and distributed.  This document may contain a daily checklist, safety contact numbers, and training “handout” information

Organization and flow diagrams

Things that could be set up ahead of time

  • The safety SOP should be written and used in a table top exercise to reveal any deficiencies before being used in an actual EAS event

Information sources

  • Safety manuals, safety protocols, and safety SOPs from veterinary hospitals or from university veterinary teaching hospitals are invaluable sources of information

The LSU Experience: Safety   

Liaison officer

The duties of the liaison officer include:

  • Attend daily meetings of shelter management
  • Report developments of interest from state incident command center meetings
  • Attend daily state incident command center meetings*
  • Report on situation at shelter
  • Daily reports to SART command*
  • Timely communication with state board of veterinary medicine
  • Develop shelter protocol to meet temporary license requirements
  • Timely communication with state veterinary medical association

* Time and distance barriers may make daily physical attendance difficult; provision should be developed at the state incident command center for teleconferencing 



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