South Australian Veterinary Emergency Management (SAVEM) Inc is a Tier 2 Response and Recovery agency with a formal role in the State Emergency Management Plan (SEMP). SAVEM is a Participating Agency under Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), as are groups such as the RSPCA, the AWL and DEW.
SAVEM’s 100% volunteer vets, nurses and others have been on fireground at the Cudlee Creek fire since Saturday 21 December. We are based at Gumeracha Staging area on the northern border of the fireground. Early in the response we assessed horses, sheep, cattle, goats and alpacas – smaller numbers of “pet” livestock while PIRSA attended to the large commercial herds and flocks. But as of Christmas Day, we are seeing increasing numbers of wildlife, coming out of hiding seeking food and water. Many of these animals have severe burns.
Wildlife triage falls into three categories: (1) those that appear well and can be monitored (2) those that require veterinary treatment, or who may do well in the hands of a competent carer, and (3) those that need to be euthanased for animal welfare reasons. Koalas in the second category are being received and admitted to Cleland Wildlife Park veterinary facility.
SAVEM’s response will continue for as long as we are required. The Cudlee Creek fireground is huge – nearly 25,000 hectares – and we are being tasked to every part of it. As the Recovery phase builds, SAVEM will attend the Local Recovery Committee community meetings, and, like the Sampson Flat fire, will be a reassuring presence when many other agencies are no longer visible.
Veterinarians and nurses wishing to join a SAVEM Activation must first complete mandatory training which is explained and outlined on the SAVEM website. Only trained volunteers are deployed to an incident.
The photo below was taken at Harrogate on Christmas Day – reminding us of the common fireground hazard of falling trees.