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Controlling infectious animal disease with Defra

Defra Training

It’s not often that a company receives a potentially high-profile government contract and hopes that they will never receive the call to enact it.

Since February 2006, Maxiflow has held a Contingency Contract with Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) for providing time-sensitive services in the event of an outbreak of infectious animal disease.

The contract covers the majority of North West of England, including Cheshire, Lancashire, Cumbria & Shropshire, in addition to North Wales. Maxiflow have continuous provisions in place which ensure that we are prepared to react quickly upon receiving notification from Defra, guaranteeing that our control methods are enacted within 24 hours.

Defra Training 2

The duties Maxiflow would carry out in a time of necessity include:

  • Provision of trained operatives, equipment and materials for disinfecting farm premises.
  • Taking measures to control environmental pollution, including the construction of temporary wheel wash sumps and water-collecting lagoons.
  • Set-up of site provisions, including cabins, pressure washers, waste disposal and generators.

Under the direction of Defra, Maxiflow would essentially be responsible for the logistics of getting a large team of personnel to the site and coordinating the transportation/hire or any required vehicles and equipment, including airtight full-body suits and airmasks. Even though our contract officially covers the North West, there is the possibility that we may be called to anywhere in the UK, so we are required to maintain a national network of contacts who can locally source anything we could potentially require.

Our operatives receive intensive specialist training in the most effective methods to disinfect everything along the chain of contact with an infected animal, from livestock transportation and barns up to the farmhouses and personal vehicles of farm personnel. We are periodically kept up-to-date with new techniques, training and information by Defra’s practice of running test drills – simulated outbreaks which are treated as 100% authentic, to the point that we have no idea if the call is legitimate until we have every measure in place.

Defra Training 3

The risks of uncontrolled infection in our animal population are severe. We have witnessed the devastating effects that the Foot & Mouth epidemics have had upon local agriculture, while the dangers from diseases that can transfer to humans were tragically demonstrated by how swiftly Swine Flu spread across the country.

We are prepared for whatever may come next, but we sincerely hope it won’t happen any time soon.

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