Veterinary Emergency Management (EM) is a fabulous discipline but it is no walk in the park and is not for everyone. Robust EM must underpin all that we do in the response/relief/recovery space, including in the veterinary or animal rescue context. Without knowledge, understanding and practice of EM systems and operating principles, a response can be neither safe nor effective. South Australian Veterinary Emergency Management (SAVEM) Inc has been a formal part of the South Australian State Emergency Management Plan (the SEMP) since 2010, and is the first and to date the only EM trained volunteer veterinary agency of its kind in Australia. SAVEM is Activated under State arrangements by the Control Agency when an emergency incident requires a veterinary presence. The process is defined in law and in agency plans. The SAVEM model is 100% volunteer with no paid staff. Veterinarians, veterinary nurses, selected wildlife carers and others with special skills comprise the SAVEM cadre. Volunteers undergo mandatory online and face-to-face training before being selected to join a SAVEM response. Our 2019/20 Black Summer formal activation was 83 days. SAVEM's decade-long experience and lessons learnt enable continuous improvement, demonstrating best-practice to the veterinary EM community.
Dr Rachel Westcott is SAVEMs Coordinator. She graduated in 1999 from Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia, with First Class Honours in Veterinary Medicine and Surgery. In 2018 she was awarded her PhD from Western Sydney University School of Medicine.
A former serving Police officer and major trauma centre radiographer, she founded South Australian Veterinary Emergency Management (SAVEM) Inc. in 2009, and has been working, volunteering and researching in Emergency Management since then.
Rachel works as a general practice veterinarian and is Co-Director of Engine Room Solutions Pty Ltd which has research, publishing and Emergency Management divisions. Her particular research interests are normalising preparedness in the community and cropland fires.