GW will spend the next two years training first responders in the event of a terrorist attack after receiving a $4.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
GW was one of 267 institutions and organizations vying for a share of the $30 million in the 2005 budget for the Department of Homeland Security’s Competitive Training Grant Program. GW will utilize the funding “to prepare emergency medical personnel to respond to mass casualty situations related to natural disasters and terrorism,” said Jean Johnson, GW senior associate dean for health science programs.
After undergoing a rigorous application process, which included a peer review evaluation from practitioners at the federal, state and local levels, the University was one of 15 groups selected in October to receive the grant.
The grant was given to develop a training curriculum for emergency medical services providers. Marlene Phillips, public affairs specialist in the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Grants and Training, said the funding is for training initiatives that further the agency’s mission to prepare the country for terrorism. Since Sept. 11, emergency preparedness across the country for terrorist attacks has been questioned.
“The grants help to develop specialized training among first responders, public officials and citizens,” Phillips said.
She added that the Department of Homeland Security has awarded GW with other grants in the past, including $2 million in 2004 for comprehensive emergency management training for nursing professionals.
Johnson added that the training methods GW will employ have not been determined yet, but a variety of techniques – including traditional classroom instruction and Web-based programs – will likely be available to better prepare emergency first responders. Johnson also stressed the importance of creating a flexible curriculum to work with the busy schedules of emergency medical service individuals.
“We feel strongly that this is an important effort,” Johnson said. “(Emergency) personnel are vital first responders, yet have limited training in mass casualty and response to terrorism. I believe that the average training for these situations is about two hours.”
Other colleges that received grants include Florida State University, Michigan State University and the University of Maryland-Baltimore.