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School of Rural Public Health and Partners Launch Bioterrorism Planning and Preparedness Training Program

This month, the School of Rural Public Health (SRPH), part of The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, begins hosting the Texas Training Initiative for Emergency Response (T-TIER), a continuing education program designed to offer training to individuals with responsibility for bioterrorism planning, preparedness and response. Until now, there has been no such program in the state. The collaborative program consists of five modules. Module 1, “Planning and Response Capacity Building; Partners, Resources and Realities” is first offered March 24-28 in College Station. Classes will be held at the Texas A&M University Center for Distance Learning Research from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday.
The School of Rural Public Health partnered with the National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (NERRTC), part of the Texas Engineering Extension Service, and the Texas A&M University Integrative Center for Homeland Security to develop this training initiative based upon 14 competencies for bioterrorism planning and preparedness identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The target audience will gain the knowledge, skills and abilities to plan, respond and deploy effectively in the event of terrorist acts, infectious disease outbreaks and other public health threats and emergencies. The week-long session will culminate with a table-top exercise based upon a bioterrorist infectious disease event scenario.
“For the last year, we’ve worked with public health departments and various groups and agencies,” said Dr. Barbara Quiram, director of the Office of Special Programs at SRPH. “We’ve spoken at national- and state-level meetings and to individuals who have responsibility for bioterrorism planning and preparedness. We’ve concluded that in Texas, there is no place to turn for individuals who need training in planning and implementing an efficient and effective emergency response to bioterrorism events or other public health emergencies.
“As a result, SRPH has developed T-TIER, a Texas-specific training program. The purpose is to provide a training opportunity for state, regional and local personnel to develop skills and competencies in accordance with 14 competencies with CDC so they can develop an efficient and effective emergency and bioterrorism response.”
The intended audience is state, regional and local public health workers with responsibility for bioterrorism planning and response; state, regional or local emergency responders or first responders; state, regional or local public safety personnel; hospital administrators or directors of emergency medicine; Local Health Authorities; and others whose responsibility includes bioterrorism and emergency response.
The registration deadline for Module 1 is March 18. Topics addressed in this module include risk communication and information dissemination; education and training; laboratory capacity; communication and information technology; and surveillance and epidemiology capacity. Module one will also be offered again June 9-13, 2003.

The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center provides the state with health education, outreach and research. Its five components located in communities throughout Texas are Baylor College of Dentistry, the college of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology and the School of Rural Public Health.

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