AMES, Iowa — It’s not unusual to travel down an Iowa interstate alongside a semitruck loaded with livestock or poultry. What is not often seem is the aftermath when one of these trucks crashes. To address these issues, the Iowa Pork Producers Association has developed a webinar series highlighting and overcoming specific challenges in a livestock carrier crash.
Crashes involving livestock often require the assistance of animal handlers and veterinarians. It may be necessary to round up loose animals and construct temporary holding pens — causing additional delays and complications at the crash site. If the first responders are not trained in how to deal with traffic crashes involving livestock, there is an increase in risk to the people and animals near the incident.
“We recognized that crashes, especially rollover crashes that involve livestock, can impact both public safety and animal welfare,” said Jamee Eggers of the Iowa Pork Producers Association. “We developed this series that includes topics like animal handling and scene management to help responders understand what they might encounter. First responders aren’t typically trained animal handlers, and animal handlers don’t typically understand traffic incident management. The more we can educate first responders on what to expect and who to contact, the safer we’ll all be in the event of an incident.”
Since these incidents do not occur often, Eggers said it is important to develop relationships between animal care specialists and first responders.
“From a road user perspective, the cost of these incidents is very high because they often take several hours to clear,” said Bonnie Castillo, traffic incident manager for the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT). “Much of that time is spent trying to find the resources to provide care for the animals involved. If we can get the word out to responders on who to contact, that will speed up clearance times, reducing the inconvenience and increasing safety to the other drivers on the road.”
Eggars said response to the webinars has been positive.
“We used real-world examples that resonated with the attendees (of the webinars),” Eggers said. “These examples generated a lot of great questions and allowed us to provide resources that folks may not have been aware of. The series started conversations between people who don’t typically interact, but the relationships are essential in an emergency.”
This training is also being considered as part of the Statewide Traffic Incident Management conference being planned for 2022. Castillo said exercises with IDOT district staff, the Iowa State Patrol and others are also in the planning stages as funding is available.
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