Prevent, Promote, and Protect your Health with the Lake County General Health District
(440) 350-2543
5966 Heisley Rd
Mentor, Ohio 44060

Veterinary Response Team (VRT)

Veterinary Response Team (VRT)


The mission of the Veterinary Response Team (VRT) is to improve the health and safety of the communities across the county by organizing and utilizing public health, medical and other volunteers.   The VRT strives to prevent, promote and protect the greatest number of companion animals, livestock, and working/service animals and people of Lake County, Ohio during emergencies in compliance with the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Act (PETS) of 2006. Members of the VRT are trained to handle the Four Phases of Emergency Management: Preparedness, Response, Recovery, and Mitigation.

What is the Lake County VRT:

The Lake County VRT is a volunteer sub-group of the Lake County Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) that brings veterinarians, veterinarian technicians, public health officials, and other support personnel. Volunteers are trained and credentialed prior to the disaster to provide rapid response where needed. A key function of the VRT is to provide volunteers with specialized training and preparation to work with the animal population.

Who is eligible to join the VRT:

We are looking for licensed veterinary professionals and community volunteers who can provide basic support services during emergencies, events, exercises, and drills for animals.  This includes, but is not limited to, licensed veterinary professionals, non-licensed volunteers who volunteer with animal organizations and groups, and public health professionals.

What training is needed to become a VRT volunteer?

Newly registered VRT volunteers are required to complete a series of 12 modules plus Hazardous Material (Hazmat) and Hazmat operations with animals. In addition to these specialized trainings, volunteers are responsible for taking online ICS (Incident Command System) 100 and 700 introductory courses.  These courses are available online at http://www.training.fema.gov.

Is there liability protection available for VRT volunteers?

Yes. Ohio Revised Code 5502.281 and 3701.04 provides liability protection to registered Ohio MRC volunteers during local, state or federally declared emergencies, disasters, drills and trainings. The statute also exempts a registered volunteer’s personal information on the Ohio MRC Database from public disclosure. This protection does not include the provision of any court fees, nor does it cover workman’s compensation.

How does the registration process work?

For volunteers who want to join the Lake County VRT unit, contact the unit coordinator to set up an orientation:

Catherine Hewitt, MRC and VRT Coordinator
Lake County General Health District
5966 Heisley Road
Mentor, OH 44060
Email: chewitt@lcghd.org
Phone (440) 350-2442

The orientation will last 45-60 minutes and you will need to complete registration forms, register on Ohio Responds, and have a photo taken for a volunteer ID badge