MSU Extension ERAIL holds emergency equipment trailer training to assist first responders with managing accidents involving animals

Calhoun County holds ERAIL trailer training to expand first responders’ knowledge of, and resources for, responding to accidents involving livestock.

People standing in front of a demonstration
Calhoun County First Responders assessing the Branch County ERAIL trailer. Photo by Casey Zangaro, MSU Extension.

The Emergency Response to Accidents Involving Livestock (ERAIL) program is a comprehensive training and response program spearheaded by Michigan State University Extension. This program is aimed at serving Michigan’s animal agriculture industry by providing resources to assist in the response to an accident that involves livestock. The ERAIL program provides training of first responders (often volunteer firemen and law enforcement officers), animal haulers and other local stakeholders on how to properly respond when animals are involved in a traffic accident. It also provides access to equipment that will aid in the accident response and assists communities in developing local teams of trained responders.

Accidents involving livestock typically require specialized equipment not normally carried in first responder vehicles. Along with providing accessibility to these needed resources, the ERAIL team provides training on how to form local teams, proper use of animal handling equipment, and safety tips for first responders on animal behavior and animal handling. While the ERAIL Response Trailers have been designed primarily to aid in the response to traffic accidents, these resources are suitable for many different situations involving animals such as barn fires and animals displaced during floods. First responders, law enforcement officials and animal control officers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with these tools so that a proper response can be implemented, no matter what type of animal-related event requires their help.

People listen to a speaker
Ernie Baker from Branch County Animal Control describes an ERAIL trailer, the equipment it contains, and why it is useful to the county and surrounding areas. Photo by Casey Zangaro, MSU Extension.

Calhoun County and the surrounding areas recently participated in this training while using and observing the Branch County ERAIL trailer. This training focused on how to use the equipment and provided participants with the opportunity to work through scenarios they might encounter when responding to accidents involving animals.

Following the training, 85% of the participants indicated they gained useful knowledge about the ERAIL program and 100% of the participants improved their skill level in use of the livestock emergency response equipment.

MSU Extension will continue to provide training opportunities for first responders, law enforcement and animal control officers throughout Michigan to improve skills needed to respond effectively to transportation accidents involving animals. This training will help minimize the human safety risks associated with these events for first responders, the public and motorists. It will also help minimize the economic and animal welfare risks faced by the animal agriculture industry when these types of events occur.

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