In the face of disasters, the Front Range Veterinary MRC, led by Dr. Casara Andre, plays a vital role in responding to the needs of animals. Their work is tough but essential, as they witness the devastating impact of disasters on wildlife, pets, and livestock.
Recently, Dr. Andre's team faced the Marshall Fires in Colorado, gaining firsthand experience of the challenges that come with disaster response. However, their preparation for further such events goes beyond logistics; it focuses on building the resilience and support systems necessary for success.
To achieve this, they utilized various tools, including Hummingly’s Optimizing team cohesion and wellbeing 'workshop in a box,’ First Fridays team activity subscription and the Doing Well card system. These resources aim to bolster the psychological well-being of their volunteer team.
Dr. Andre emphasizes the importance of proactive support, stating,
"Great leadership means preparing our team for high-pressure situations as part of our duty of care, rather than waiting for harm to occur before offering support."
She understands that success in challenging endeavors is not just about the tasks at hand; it's about nurturing the people who make it happen.
Furthermore, Dr. Andre addresses a pressing issue within the veterinary profession—the mental health crisis. She notes, "Veterinarians have the highest suicide rate of any post-graduate profession, and the numbers among veterinary support staff are equally concerning." To combat this crisis, her team proposed an innovative solution—embedding mental health support and emphasizing psychological resilience in their training programs.
Their approach, inspired by a successful pilot program during a devastating wildfire in 2021, focuses on establishing a rapport between mental health professionals and practitioners. They also integrate Hummingly toolkits into their training regimen to bolster individual and team resilience.
Their dedication has not gone unnoticed. They secured a $50,000 grant from NACCHO to host conferences that promote collaboration and problem-solving, equipping leaders and stakeholders to support veterinary professional volunteers under immense pressure.
Dr. Casara Andre and her team at the Front Range Veterinary MRC demonstrate the importance of proactive leadership, compassion, and innovation. They respond to disasters with unwavering dedication while simultaneously ensuring their team members have the tools and support needed to cope with the emotional toll of their work.
Their story is a testament to the impact of leadership and resilience, whether facing disasters or pursuing significant goals. As Dr. Andre aptly puts it,
"Our duty of care extends beyond the physical; it encompasses the mental and emotional wellbeing of our team members."
With the right support, teams can thrive in even the most challenging circumstances.