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How is Traceability Used in an Emergency Response?

During an emergency response, which could include disease outbreaks, floods or fires, access to up­-to-date information is critical. Determining where animals are, where they have been and what other animals they have come into contact with allows for efficient emergency planning and response. Traceability is an investment that helps mitigate risks and protect Alberta producers as well as their livestock and poultry operations by reducing the overall impact of the event in size and scale.   

Premises Identification (PID) is an important part of an effective traceability system and emergency management plan which includes response.  

In an animal health event, having animal locations and other key information in one system is critical for quick, accurate and cost-­effective emergency response.  

Determining where animals are, where they have been and what other animals they have come into contact with is very important to:

  • Allow for swift and accurate response in the event of an animal disease outbreak,
  • Respond to natural disasters (e.g. floods, sour gas leaks, fires etc.),
  • Provide better control measures for diseases affecting more than one livestock species,
  • Quickly inform targeted producers of threats and/or control measures,
  • Immediately dispatch emergency resources to targeted locations,
  • Rapidly determine risk-­free sites for emergency carcass disposal, and
  • Swiftly define which regions are affected, or not, by an outbreak

In the event of an emergency, the information registered in your PID Account allows emergency responders to quickly access your contact information and determine the land location of your animals. During an animal health emergency or natural disaster, you may be contacted if it is determined that your animals may be affected or are in danger. This can only be accomplished if your information is accurate and current in the Premises Identification System.    It is vital that information is updated as it changes so you can receive the best service and support from emergency responders, otherwise they may not be unable to contact you if your information is out of date or incorrect. For this reason, you must report account changes within 30 days.

Real Examples of the System in Use

In early 2011, after a long, wet and late spring, incredible volumes of water placed unbelievable pressure on the sturdy walls of the Oldman Dam in Southern Alberta. To avoid a catastrophic spill­over, it was determined that a controlled breach would be required.   

By utilizing the PID system, emergency response officials were able to determine which livestock operations would be potentially impacted and direct contact was made with affected  producers so that they could make arrangements to safeguard their livestock.   

In early 2009, H1N1 was discovered on a hog operation in Central Alberta. The PID System was used to quickly identify all hog and/or poultry operations within a 20 km radius. The Office of the Chief Provincial Veterinarian was able to rapidly dispatch an emergency task force to ensure that the disease didn’t spread to other operations. All hog and poultry operations in the area were able to resume regular operations, including shipping to market, in a timely basis.