Several-hundred-thousand head of cattle are on U.S. roadways every day. Given the volume of cattle being transported the likelihood of a truck being involved in an accident is great. However first responders and law-enforcement officers aren't always trained in how to handle an incident with cattle.

As a result North Dakota State University-Extension specialists joined university and Extension faculty from across the country in developing the Bovine Emergency Response Plan and teaching curriculum, as a way for emergency responders to learn how to more appropriately address accidents involving cattle-transport vehicles.

The plan includes standardized recommendations, suggestions and materials for emergency personnel in taking emergency calls, scene arrival and assessment, containment and security, extraction and relocation of cattle, disposal of dead animals, securing the wrecked transport vehicle, euthanasia and debriefing.

Imagine a semi loaded with cattle has crashed and rolled over. It's dark outside, and cattle are injured inside the semitrailer and loose on the scene. Our plan helps emergency personnel know how to assess the situation, make critical decisions, and keep themselves and the public safe.

The training is for farmers, ranchers, veterinarians, first responders such as firefighters and ambulance personnel, county emergency managers, law-enforcement personnel, tow-truck drivers, Extension agents, auction-market owners, truck drivers hauling cattle, and anyone else interested in first responder and public safety as well as animal welfare.

Participants take part in classroom training, table-top exercises, demonstrations and practice. The participants learn to improve response to emergency incidents involving cattle, and recognize potential hazards and issues related to responder safety, public safety, and animal care and welfare.

The program encourages the development of customized plans that fit a jurisdiction's unique needs. Plus participants learn how to do a better job of informing the public about what happened and how the situation was handled, which leads to the public better understanding actions involving cattle.

The program was developed with grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and the Beef Checkoff program, and is partially funded by the North Dakota Beef Commission. Visit www.ag.ndsu.edu for more information.

Lisa Pederson is a livestock specialist at North Dakota State University-Extension’s Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and a developer of the plan.