Faculty Member Preps Responders for Animal-Disease Outbreak

Published 08.26.2009

Natural Science
Faculty & Staff

Steven R. ParkerExpanding upon his assistance to American Indian tribes preparing for agricultural terrorism, a faculty member at Pennsylvania College of Technology recently trained the local County Animal Response Team in how to deal with an intentional livestock infection.

Steven R. Parker, certified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a Master Trainer, presented the agency's "Foreign Animal Disease Response and Counter-Terrorism Preparedness" course at the Lycoming County Emergency Services complex in Williamsport.

The July 18 course offered comprehensive information regarding the risk, nature, identification and appropriate response to an agroterrorist event. CART responders from other Pennsylvania counties also were represented at the training, as were several fire and police departments.

"Although my area for Department of Homeland Security FADR training is normally Indian tribes, occasionally I am requested to assist with "˜Train the Trainers' in other states," said Parker, a former assistant professor of environmental technology now teaching physics in the college's School of Integrated Studies. "This time was different. The Lycoming CART asked me to provide the training to its members because they could not get trainers to come to central Pennsylvania to provide local training to meet their needs. I was happy to assist in my own back yard."

The most likely scenario of an act of agricultural terrorism, as determined by the Homeland Security Council, involves an intentional introduction of an animal disease. Because an event created by such an act of terror is very similar to other possible disease outbreaks, Parker explained, the AgTerror preparedness training can be used in Pennsylvania for an accident, a natural emergence or re-emergence, or mitigation of a disease.

That includes such maladies as chronic wasting diseases, bovine tuberculosis, brucellosis and animal anthrax.

"I found the CART members and other attendees to be well-prepared for emergency responses and very interested in learning anything new to them," Parker said. "Judging by my experience in the classroom with these first responders, emergency response throughout Pennsylvania is in good hands."

Parker has been invited back to present additional Homeland Security training at the Lycoming County complex in the coming months.

To learn more about the academic programs offered by the School of Integrated Studies at Penn College, visit online or call 570-327-4521. For more information about Penn College, visit on the Web , e-mail or call toll-free 800-367-9222.