What’s that old gag? Be alert – the world needs more lerts!
Sorry – sometimes I can’t help myself. (My dad’s often said there was no help for me, too!) But I did want to make you aware of a structure that’s in place in AZ called ALIRT – Arizona Livestock Incident Response Team.
If you recall from Some Numbers, we’ve got quite a few livestock roaming across the ranges of AZ. Sometimes bad things happen to large numbers of them. There’s a group of folks, primarily large animal veterinarians, that are willing and able to respond to such needs. That’s a really boiled-down summation of what ALIRT is all about.
So let me give those of you with more time a few more details about ALIRT (or follow that link to the U of A hosted page that provides details and further links.)
I mentioned these folks are primarily large animal veterinarians. But also involved are Cooperative Extension staff, folks whose jobs have them spending a lot of time roaming the ranges of Arizona and working with livestock and livestock producers. All these people have a background in livestock health, husbandry and some dealing with diseases (not only infectious ones but also toxicities as many of the plants in the desert can be quite deadly.)
Most livestock producers work with a veterinarian if not regularly, at least now and then. So hopefully disease matters get noticed before too much damage is done. And from a government perspective, a handful of diseases have been targeted for eradication or control along with the foreign ones that we screen to keep out.
Essentially then on one hand we have folks to deal with the day-to-day troubles (practitioners they’re often called). And we have folks who run out and deal with the foreign animal diseases (FADDs in the government jargon). But some years back it was recognized that this pattern left something of a gap. In that gap occasionally we develop some homegrown problems that threaten to get out of hand.
So from a gap analysis (sometimes I can’t help but fall back to my systems/TQM – total quality management – days) grew the idea of a group that could fill the gap: ALIRT.
ADA, UofA Cooperative Extension, AZ Cattlemen all got together to bring the idea to life. Close to 20 folks are now ALIRT trained, most being private veterinarians. These folks volunteered for the extra training and have been provided some extra tools so they are better prepared to deal with these problems when they arise.
It works this way. A livestock producer whose been having more than the usual troubles notifies her/his veterinarian or extension agent. That person then contacts an ALIRT veterinarian or a member of the ALIRT Committee. The committee evaluates the situation and decides whether it meets the criteria for an ALIRT response.
I know it may strike you as wrong-headed that a committee make a decision about a matter that involves a fair amount of urgency. But 1 – it’s a small committee, about a half-dozen of us; and 2 – given modern telecom infrastructure near-instant communications has become commonplace for nearly everyone; and 3 – if need be there are plans in place to act without a quorum’s consent. Bottom line is that the system works well.
In the short time I’ve been involved, it’s been activated 3 times, including one that merited the FBI being apprised of the matter. Fortunately that instance did not conclude with the discovery of a malicious act; only an accidental one as we fairly quickly determined.
So getting back for a moment to my recent blog entries about numbers, if you consider the ADA folks, the USDA folks and now the ALIRT folks, that tallies to less than 50 that protect the livestock of the state of AZ. But it’s very reassuring to me as the person responsible for the safety of so much, to know I have such a wonderful group of folks that I can depend upon.