Pigs rarely make the national news but today I woke up to a news report that a tractor trailer hauling market hogs had overturned this morning while traveling to the processing plant. While this is not what I would call a good news story there are certain aspects of the story that show the value of a group like the Ontario Farm Animal Council, (OFAC) to animal agriculture.
In the past, emergency workers attending to animal emergencies lacked any training on how to deal with situations like today’s rollover. Once upon a time, you would see policemen in their cars trying to round up pigs with their sirens, accomplishing nothing but scaring the heck out of the pigs. If you have time, check out CTV’s video coverage of the accident scene (http://bit.ly/dBKvhM) and watch the one of the extended clips. In it you will see people dressed as firefighters, acting like incognito pig farmers. No yelling and screaming, no sirens, just calm people patiently shuffling pigs along with makeshift barriers.
So what is the connection between firefighters handling pigs properly and OFAC? OFAC provides voluntary training sessions for emergency workers along with maintaining a comprehensive library of resources. This link (http://bit.ly/dzwUNV) leads you to a piece of literature that is very relevant to this morning’s events entitled “What To Do With… Livestock on the Loose at an Accident Scene” and is only one of almost 50 resource materials for dealing with a wide range of emergencies.
We never hope for events like today, but accidents will always be a part of driving and as long as there are animals travelling on our roads we need to have organizations that can educate the people that will be dealing with the problems.
As an aside, I would like to extend congratulations to CTV for their excellent coverage this scene, they focused on how the surviving animals were cared for without trying to sensationalize the story like some of the other networks. CBC showed a clip of pigs being dumped into the back of a deadstock trailer while failing to say that those animals had been euthanized, allowing people to believe that we would load pigs onto trailers by dropping them from 15 feet in the air. It was a breath of fresh air to see at least one media outlet not trying to smear our industry in the public light…Thanks CTV!!