The Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center (AEMRC) at The University of Arizona, in collaboration with the University of New Mexico, will receive continued funding for the second year of a $3 million federal grant to provide bioterrorism emergency response training for health-care providers in Arizona and New Mexico.
During the first year of the grant, the Critical Response and Emergency Systems Training (CREST) Consortium has provided access to emergency preparedness training to the more than 17,600 physicians, physician assistants, nurses, paramedics and other public health professionals in Arizona.
"Arizona has several unique issues that pose risks of terrorism and public health emergencies," said Benson Munger, PhD, research associate professor, UA department of emergency medicine and the grant's principle investigator. "Terrorist targets such as the nation's largest nuclear reactor, the numerous key military facilities and the leading missile defense manufacturer, all in our backyards, call for a continued focused approach to training medical professionals who will make the largest impact on public health should the need arise."
The program addresses the challenges and needs for delivering domestic preparedness training to the states, especially in medically underserved rural areas. One example of a rural area that has benefited from the CREST training programs has been the Navapache Regional Medical Center in Northeastern Arizona.
Since August, the hospital that services a 3,000-square-mile area, has trained close to 50 nurses, security team members, paramedics and social workers with four courses at the hospital and other locations in the rural area. The region now has a better understanding of how to rapidly and effectively alert the public health system of a public emergency, participate in multidisciplinary response to the public health emergency and identify and treat acute needs of patients in such a situation.
"Members of our community who have had the opportunity to attend the CREST trainings are better prepared to deal with an emergency," said Kathy Curran, professional services coordinator and an Answering the Call instructor.
The Arizona arm of CREST focuses on providing training in the areas identified by the Hazard Vulnerability Analysis developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Public Health Preparedness and the Heath Resources and Services Administration's (HRSA) Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Program. Topics include pandemic influenza, explosive events, chemical exposures and nuclear accidents.
The CREST Consortium has delivered topic-specific training across the states through regionally specific courses such as the Answering the Call program, a faculty lecture series, and offering national training programs such as the National Disaster Life Support (NDLS) and Advanced HAZMAT Life Support (AHLS) programs.