Disaster Planning for Veterinary Hospitals

September 4, 2014

Disasters come in all shapes and sizes. Is your team ready to weather the storm?

Disasters come in all shapes and sizes. Is your team ready to weather the storm?

Yes, disaster planning for veterinary hospitals is crucial! Since September is National Preparedness Month, now is the time to review your current disaster plan or create one for the first time. In my experience, very few veterinary hospitals have a disaster plan or team training; a travesty, as disasters occur everywhere, at any time.

The Institute for Business and Home Safety ( estimates that 25 percent of companies are unable to reopen after a major disaster. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes, then a business considers the importance of disaster planning and emergency preparedness.

Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) requires small businesses to create a fire prevention and emergency response plan, that includes veterinary hospitals. Hospitals with more than 10 employees must have a written emergency action plan, however veterinary hospitals with fewer employees benefit from a written document, improving communication, defining expectations and outlining protocols.

Often times we think of the usual natural disasters as emergencies, but what about other circumstances that disrupt the veterinary hospital? Consider the uncooperative client or robbery at gun point (which has occurred!). Do you have protocols in place to assist your team in those cases?

Following is a list of possible disasters that may occur. What is the likelihood in your area? Truly, identify what has occurred in the past ten years and create a list relevant to your veterinary hospital. In Colorado we experience floods, fires, tornadoes, snow storms, robberies, and disgruntled clients.

  • Dam Failure
  • Earthquake
  • Fire or Wildfire
  • Flood
  • Hazardous Material
  • Heat
  • Hurricane
  • Landslide
  • Nuclear Power Plant Emergency
  • Terrorism
  • Thunderstorm
  • Tornado
  • Volcano
  • Wildfire
  • Winter Storm

Here is a link to a page on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that helps you determine historical disasters in your neck of the woods, within your state:

Now that you have an idea of what may occur, keep the momentum going, and consider who on your team will be the best candidate to become the “Disaster Coordinator” or design a Disaster Team for larger veterinary facilities. This is just the beginning, because creating an Emergency Action Plan can be a big endeavor, one that is time consuming, yet required and in the best interest of your team, patients, clients and business.

As the month unfolds, look for more information each week on Disaster Planning; tips, identifying a Disaster Coordinator, adequate insurance and team training.

Disaster planning for veterinary hospitals can begin from scratch, compiling documents, emergency action plans, training and researching. OR managers can contact CATALYST to learn more about comprehensive, personalized, emergency preparedness and disaster planning services. Contact us at [email protected], today!

Yours in Disaster Planning, RR


Rebecca Rose, CVT, President of CATALYST Veterinary Practice Consultants

Rebecca Rose, CVT,
President & Founder
CATALYST Veterinary Practice Consultants

Rebecca Rose, President
CATALYST Veterinary Practice Management Consultants…and the CATALYST Consulting Team