$1 million Homeland Security grant to promote disaster courses

A $1 million Department of Homeland Security grant will help UT Southwestern's Division of Emergency Medicine promote a series of standardized National Disaster Life Support courses developed in large part by its faculty members.
"The NDLS program standardizes the emergency response approaches and procedures for all health-care providers, and it makes disaster preparedness training consistent across the country," said Dr. Ray Swienton, co-director of the division's section on emergency medical services, homeland security and disaster medicine and assistant professor of surgery. "At the same time, it also strengthens our country's public health system in terms of dealing with public health emergencies."
He and Dr. Paul Pepe, chairman of emergency medicine and holder of the Riggs Family Chair in Emergency Medicine, were part of the core group that created the American Medical Association's National Disaster Life Support courses. To date, the classes include advanced, basic and core National Disaster Life Support courses.
The Core National Disaster Life Support program has just completed its first year of statewide distribution as part of the Texas Bioterrorism Continuing Education grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to the UT System in 2003. The program has trained more than 10,000 participants. The national release of the program is scheduled for January 2005.
"The Department of Homeland Security wants to rely on the NDLS program as a tool to rapidly train tens of thousands of people," said retired Army Brig. Gen. Jim James, director of the AMA Center for Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response and head of the NDLS program.
The original course developers came from UT Southwestern, the Medical College of Georgia, the University of Georgia and the UT School of Public Health in Houston. These four academic centers have now been designated as a multi-site Center for Public Health Emergency Preparedness by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Drs. Pepe and Swienton are executive committee members of the center and the AMA Center for Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response.