Originally created 03/06/03

MCG, Fort Gordon form disaster course



Officials at the Medical College of Georgia, Fort Gordon and other universities are working to develop a disaster course for the general public, MCG officials said.

The course will spin off work done on disaster-medicine courses for health care providers and highlight Augusta and Fort Gordon's importance in homeland security, said Dr. Richard Schwartz, the vice chairman of MCG's Department of Emergency Medicine.

"There's a broad market for these types of things," Dr. Schwartz said. "A community disaster life support course will focus on the general public."

The course will teach the public how to respond to a natural or human-caused disaster, distributed through community organizations such as the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army and through faith-based groups, said Chip Giddens, the administrative director for the Center of Operational Medicine.

Dr. Schwartz and Mr. Giddens said the course will be an offshoot of a basic disaster life support course that MCG, the University of Georgia, the University of Texas-Southwest at Parkland and the University of Texas-Houston worked to develop.

The American Medical Association has given the course a thumbs up, according to a Jan. 14 letter.

"The BDLS manual which you have developed and which you demonstrated at our meeting is a noteworthy and critical achievement," wrote Dr. James J. James of the AMA's Center for Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response.

Mr. Giddens said MCG and its partners are seeking a five-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the program's development.

If approved, the first year of the CDC grant would bring $1 million for development of a community course, along with further development of the basic disaster life support course, Mr. Giddens said.

While MCG's role in the effort is geared toward education and research, Fort Gordon brings its communications know-how to distribute MCG's shared resources, Mr. Giddens said.

He said MCG and its partners are asking Fort Gordon's Center for Total Access to provide distance-learning features to the course.

"We've also requested for them to collaborate and our intent for the grant proposal is to note that we request their assistance," he said.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.