Agroterrorism defense plan unveiled

Goodwell- On June 10, Oklahoma Panhandle State University provided a forum for Texas County Emergency Management Director Harold Tyson to unveil the plan he and his task force have worked on diligently for the past several months. The plan specifically addresses terrorism that might affect agricultural concerns (agroterrorism) in Texas County where cattle feeding and grazing is a large part of the area's economy.

The plan details what should take place from the time a suspected agroterrorism act is reported through debriefing once the incident has been investigated and resolved. In the case of a foreign animal disease (FAD) outbreak, quick response and containment, if necessary, is crucial to prevent spread of disease. Dr. Leslie Cole, a veterinarian who works for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, referred to the time passed between identifying an FAD and acting to contain it “million dollar minutes.” An outbreak could have a catastrophic economic impact not only on the local level, but on the state and national level as well.

The proposed plan provides explicit instructions divided into three phases for the emergency management team to follow. Phase One procedures will be implemented immediately after notification of the possibility of a foreign animal disease outbreak. Phase Two goes into effect if investigation by a state veterinary official determines that it is possible that an infected animal has been found. If further investigation reveals that it is highly possible there is FAD infection at the site, Phase Three is implemented.

According to Tyson, the next step is to choose individuals to man the emergency response team. Members of the team will train and participate in a drill in about a year in order to test the plan and make any adjustments.

Tyson said, “Hopefully, we will never have to implement this plan, but now we have it if we need it.” He went on to say that several other counties in Oklahoma and even some other states have asked to model their own local plan on the one produced by Texas County.

 

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