Emergency Prevention and Procedures

Emergency Prevention

In order to prevent emergencies in the Parvo ICU, the various major intrinsic and extrinsic risks must be identified. Intrinsic risks are risks which come from items, protocols, or equipment inside the ICU. These are risks we usually have control over. Extrinsic risks are those which come from outside the facility or are inherent to the building or other property elements and are often out of our control.

Intrinsic Risks

Clothes Dryer/Fire - Driers are designed not to catch fire, however, they are no infallible. Manufacturing defects, failure to maintain (i.e. cleaning the lint trap), improper installation, and a variety of other factors can lead to a fire. It is an enormous but necessary risk to have a drier which can be best mitigated by unplugging the equipment when someone is not present. Keeping a fire extinguisher nearby and checking the equipment regularly while on-site can also reduce the potential for a problem escalating. In case of fire, evacuation will likely be necessary and the proper authorities must be notified.

Electrical Wires – In an environment where liquids and bodily fluids are being spread and patients have the tendency to chew on wires, be mindful of where outlets and power chords are being placed, and when heating pads are removed from patient kennels (once they have recovered). Stray electrical wires are trip hazards, fire hazards, and shock/electrocution hazards.

Temperature - Heat and Air Conditioning are a must in certain times of year and certain regions. Without proper temperature control, an ICU can become unlivable. Be sure that the temperature is sufficiently monitored at all hours (either by having the building shared by other facilities, automated logging via a temperature sensing device, or regular checks at all hours of the day as seasons change). If an environment's temperature becomes unlivable, it cannot be used for treating dogs. If temperature becomes untenable, evacuation may be necessary.

Toilet Maintenance - Toilets are not constructed to withstand flushing of certain materials (such as paper towels, large food items, or huge clumps of toilet-safe material such as toilet paper). In extreme conditions, toilet pipes can burst. In the case of a Parvo ICU, this can be especially disastrous as parvo-infected water could be leaked into uninfected areas. Keep an eye out for any signs the toilet isn't in ideal working order and fix small issues before they escalate. Never flush inappropriate items down the toilet.

Flooding Within the Isolation Area - Sinks, showers and other plumbing can break and leak (especially under icy conditions). Crates and cages should be elevated so in the case of minor flooding, dogs in cages are not subjected to flood water. Electrical cables and other items which can pose additional hazards with light flooding should also be properly elevated. If flooding escalates, evacuation may be necessary.

Sharps - Sharp objects such as needles, knives, scissors, and edges of cages should be treated with care and respect. Punctures with sharp objects in the wrong location can result in severe injury or death. In the case of injury, medical supplies should be provided inside the ICU. If the injury is sufficiently severe such that basic washing and bandaging is insufficient, the injured individual should be evacuated and the appropriate authorities notified.

Trip Hazards - The floors of the ICU should remain as clear as possible to avoid trip hazards. This includes proper storing of cleaning equipment, electrical cables, trash cans, and other items which may result in a fall. Although falls are usually a minor inconvenience, under the wrong conditions, serious harm can occur.

Doors - It's vital that the doors of the ICU remain unlocked from the inside at all times. In case of evacuation, standard decontamination procedures may not be applicable. Consult the Emergency Procedures in this document for details.

Other Volunteers - Although it is extremely unlikely, other volunteers can pose a risk under tragic circumstances. Proper recruiting practices, vetting, and having as many people on shift as is reasonable are good ways to help prevent unhappy conflict between volunteers.

Extrinsic Risks

Security - Proper locks should be installed on all external entrances to the building to avoid unauthorized individuals from entering the ICU.

Toxin or Gas Leaks - If your facility has gas or other potential airborne hazards, there should be a method of detection in place to provide early warning for evacuation in case of a leak. If the leak is from another facility nearby, it will often be necessary to stay indoors until the cloud has passed. Follow instructions of emergency personnel in any case.

Fires - Fires can occur in dry conditions, lightning, or due to accidental ignition by human sources. In any case, fires will often result in evacuation.

Flooding - Flooding can come on quite quickly in areas with heavy rain or non-ideal drainage. An appropriate evacuation or contingency plan should be followed in the case of severe flooding.

Other Natural Disasters - Different areas of the world have different disaster risks. Consult your local government to determine if further precautions for landslide, earthquake, excessive winds due to hurricanes or tornadoes, volcanic eruption, or any other disaster should be taken.

Civil Disasters - In the case of civil disasters such as riots or war, follow appropriate governmental instruction.

Emergency Procedures

This section contains a set of common emergency procedures to be followed under various circumstances. Use best judgement to determine which procedure is appropriate for a given scenario. Consult the above list of Emergency Prevention for additional help.


The most common emergency procedure is Evacuation. Evacuation may be necessary for Fire, Flooding, Gas Leaks, Security reasons, or failure of temperature controls. Evacuations may not always follow the same time course. Some may provide days to respond, while others may only provide seconds. It may not always be possible to evacuate the dogs in the ICU. In cases where it is, it is important to attempt to reasonably contain a quarantine. This may involve setting aside an area outside of the facility where the parvo dogs can be set aside, stashing parvo dogs in cars which can be later sanitized, or, in longer term cases, taking dogs home to foster where their care can be completed.

In the case of more rapid evacuations where there is not time to evacuate all the animals, use your best judgement and consult your organization's specific protocols.


In some emergencies, the correct response is to stay indoors until the situation is resolved. This can be for security situations, civil disasters, inclement weather, chemical spills, and many others. Follow appropriate local guidelines and instructions until the issue is resolved. In this situations, it is ideal to have a small stash of snacks and clean water somewhere in the ICU (a stash which can also be appreciated by hungry and thirsty volunteers more regularly).

Medical Intervention

Some emergencies just involve a small set of individuals (human or animal) who need immediate medical assistance. In these cases, human's needing rescue should be evacuated from the ICU as appropriate (except in the case of injuries which could be exacerbated by moving). Animals in distress should be treated to the best of the staff's abilities in the ICU.