Originally created 12/16/03

Disaster training called 'model'



Training courses developed in Augusta to help medical personnel and first responders handle disasters could become models for the rest of the nation, an influential congressman said Monday.

U.S. Rep Harold Rogers, R-Ky., toured Fort Gordon and Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center and was briefed about disaster medicine courses to be taught there in conjunction with the Medical College of Georgia.

"What you're doing here offers us nationally some models for copying," said Mr. Rogers, the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security.

MCG and the Southeast Regional Medical Command at Fort Gordon also signed an agreement Monday to develop the National Disaster Life Support Training Center at Fort Gordon. MCG has already developed the Basic and the Advanced Life Support courses in conjunction with the medical command and other universities across the country.

The courses have been endorsed by the American Medical Association, and states such as Texas, New Jersey and Connecticut have adopted them as part of their public health training, said Richard B. Schwartz, the director of the MCG Center of Operational Medicine.

It's also hoped that the Army will use it to train its Special Medical Augmentation Response Teams, designed to respond with specialized care, said Col. Warren Whitlock, the director of the Center for Total Access at Fort Gordon. A recent training session in Hawaii was attended by the Army Surgeon General, Dr. Schwartz said.

Officials will seek more than $4 million to fund the center, but in the meantime they are working off a number of grants, including $100,000 through the East Central Health District to provide the training, Dr. Schwartz said.

"Right now we're piecing it together from a variety of different funding sources," said MCG President Daniel W. Rahn.

That kind of funding could come through Mr. Rogers' committee, and part of the reason for the trip Monday was to show him what the training can do, said U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Ga., who served as host.

"The possibility is, as long as I can hang around, we're going to get funding somewhere along the line," Mr. Norwood said.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.