In many cases, significant challenges will arise when responding to truck rollovers involving livestock. The first of which is finding panels to place around the overturned trailer or semi, a holding facility, and trailers and drivers to bring the livestock to the holding facility until another truck comes to finish the haul.

Preparing for truck rollover incidents begins with training first-responders.

They need to know the importance of keeping all animals contained until the state veterinarian gives permission to transport them to a holding facility. If the rollover involves a sealed trailer hauling cattle from Canada, animals cannot be unloaded until the federal veterinarian gives permission to unload the trailer. A local veterinarian will need to be on the scene to decide what to do with the injured animals and a representative from the NDSA – either the chief brand inspector or one of the fieldmen – should be on-hand, too. Everyone involved with a rollover is also advised to be on the lookout for suspicious people taking pictures or video of the accident.

Step-by-step instructions to follow if you witness a truck rollover:
  • Contact the state radio or call 911, who will then contact the state and federal veterinarians, NDSA representative, state highway patrol and, local fi re department/first responders and county sheriff’s department. The state highway patrol will contact the nearest wrecking company to come out with the wrecker trucks.
  • Contact a local farmer or rancher to bring horse trailers, panels, chains and ropes.
  • If possible, an officer should get the health and brand papers from the trucker, especially if it is an out-of-state truck. Health concerns are a major consideration when a truck rollover occurs.
  • Line up a holding facility, like a livestock market or arena, for the animals to be housed away from others until they can be transported to their original destination.
  • The federal veterinarian must approve cutting the seal on a Canadian truck before any livestock is removed. No exceptions.
  • Have a veterinarian on scene to inspect and treat cattle that are hurt.
  • Assemble panels around the area where you will cut an opening to let cattle out of truck. More than one opening will be needed, to coincide with the number of departments in the cattle trailer. Move panels accordingly and have trailers backed up and ready to load before anything is let out.
  • Everyone on the scene needs to be quiet and their keep movements to a minimum.
  • Cut open the trailer one compartment at a time, let the livestock out and load them into the rescue trailer as soon as possible.
  • Haul the livestock to the nearest holding facility.
  • A towing company will take over after all of the animals have left the trailer.

This may seem like common sense to most of you, but if you get a group of first responders that doesn’t work around cattle for a living, things get stressful. Last year, the NDSA responded to three rollover incidents.

Members of the Bovine Emergency Response Team from West Virginia, Iowa, Montana and North Dakota are working on a national best practices plan for states to follow when a rollover occurs. The plan includes a list of materials need to remove livestock safely and efficiently without having problems. The NDSA Chief Brand Inspector and fieldmen would be happy to come out to your community and give a presentation on what to do during a rollover.
Contact NDSA Chief Brand Inspector Blaine Northrop at (701) 223-2522 or to schedule a presentation for your local firemen or emergency responder’s meeting.