SONOMA, Calif., Aug. 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- HALTER (Horse & Livestock Team Emergency Response), a Sonoma County-based grassroots initiative, is a recipient of the 2016 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Award in the Awareness to Action Category. This prestigious award is presented annually by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the US Government agency responsible for emergency response efforts. HALTER also received an Honorable Mention in the Community Preparedness Champions Award Category.
HALTER's mission is to support first responders and community volunteers by providing resources for training, equipment, and fundraising to assist in emergencies involving horses, livestock, and other animals. The HALTER Project is among eleven recipients of the honor nationwide out of a total of 160 applications from local and state governments, non-profits, the private sector, community-based organizations, and individuals.
The eleven FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Award recipients will be recognized on September 13 and 14 in Washington, D.C. Accepting the award at the White House on behalf of HALTER is Julie Atwood, the project's founder and lead benefactor.
"It's gratifying to have our emergency preparedness efforts recognized by the nation's top agency responsible for responding to natural and man-made disasters," said Ms. Atwood, the Sonoma County rancher and equestrian whose grassroots initiative raises awareness and funding for various local fire services, animal services, and organizations to enhance emergency preparedness and large-animal rescue resources. "This FEMA award not only validates all our work to date, but hopefully will spur the community to further action to protect our county's horse and livestock resources in individual emergencies and regional disasters."
According to Atwood, many communities lack comprehensive plans, resources, and trained responders to address the life-saving needs of large animals in an emergency. She founded HALTER to raise awareness and promote emergency preparedness throughout the west, where wildfires, floods and earthquakes are a constant threat, animals are transported continually for recreational and commercial purposes, and accidents happen every day. Though it was initially focused on Sonoma County, today HALTER has been tapped for mentoring throughout Northern California and other rural regions, where ranching and owning horses and farm animals are fundamental to the region's culture, economy, and lifestyle.
The 2016 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Award honors HALTER for its various emergency preparedness initiatives, including "Ranch Readiness Day," "Honor the Heroes" celebration, and other programs to educate the community and train and equip first-responders. In November 2015, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors issued an official proclamation commending HALTER for "bringing awareness, preparation and education in the area of animal emergency disaster response" and for HALTER's funding of scholarships to enable training of first-responders and financial assistance to purchase equipment for local Large Animal Emergency Response teams.
HALTER is one of two organizations honored by FEMA in the "Awareness to Action" category. In its official statement, the agency said:
Prior to 2015, despite the likelihood of earthquakes, wildfires, and floods, there were no resources in place for large animal rescue in the six-county North Bay region of California, just north of San Francisco. To protect the lives and safety of the more than 40,000 equines and thousands more cattle, sheep, and goats, and to protect those people who care for them, critical resources were needed for farm and ranch emergency preparedness education and response. The Horse and Livestock Team Emergency Response (HALTER) Project has filled that gap through education efforts involving the public, animal welfare organizations and health providers, and first responders.
"The Horse and Livestock Team Emergency Response Project has filled a critical gap to help the Bay Area become more prepared and resilient," said FEMA spokeswoman Mary Simms. "Julie's efforts are a model for how one organization can truly make a significant impact. It's a great example that individuals and community organizations can get involved to help their communities prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters."
For more information about the FEMA Individual Community Preparedness Awards and a complete list of this year's recipients, please visit https://www.ready.gov/citizen-corps/citizen-corps-awards.
HALTER is a volunteer-driven, grassroots initiative organized by Julie Atwood Events to raise awareness and funding for various agencies and organizations to enhance emergency preparedness and large-animal rescue resources. For information about HALTER visit www.halterfund.org.
CONTACT: Holly Hansen
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SOURCE The HALTER Project