October 14, 2005

Contact: Sam Giammo (505) 272-3682; Jenny Savage (505) 272-3690

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Congresswoman Heather Wilson today joined forces with University of New Mexico healthcare professionals to announce federal funding for mass casualty care training. UNM is poised to train nearly 40,000 healthcare providers in bioterrorism emergency response tactics thanks to a recently funded three year, $4.46 million federal grant.

Led by efforts from the Center for Disaster Medicine at the UNM School of Medicine (SOM) in collaboration with New Mexico State University and the University of Arizona, healthcare educators from across New Mexico and Arizona have joined forces to form a Critical Response and Emergency Systems Training (CREST) consortium designed to equip the healthcare professional workforce in these states to deal with the medical consequences related to bioterrorism and other public health emergencies.

"I am very pleased that the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has given us an opportunity to continue our program of emergency preparedness training. Many of the healthcare providers from New Mexico who have responded to the Hurricane Katrina crisis have received training through the UNM Center for Disaster Medicine and this program. We'll be able to continue this important mission with the on-going funding from HRSA," said Dr. Mike Richards, director of the UNM SOM Center for Disaster Medicine.

"The UNM Center for Disaster Medicine does work that is incredibly important," said Wilson . "The medical professionals from throughout the state who responded to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as members of the New Mexico Disaster Medical Assistance Team made us proud. We want to see more of this training so that our people can respond to major disasters in this state or elsewhere. In any mass casualty incident, people with cool heads and specialized medical skills save lives. This program successfully trains New Mexicans to do just that."

The collaboration of efforts has allowed the consortium to leverage resources and create synergy across state lines. For three years, 13, 000 healthcare professionals will be trained each year through CREST consortium courses designed to incorporate the four HRSA bioterrorism training goals of recognition, treatment, coordinated response, and public health system alerting. Training will be delivered through a combination of formal presentations, distributive learning materials, distance learning opportunities and emergency response drills and exercises.

In organizing this grant, the CDM worked closely with leadership from the New Mexico Department of Health, the CDC Public Health and the HRSA Hospital Bioterrorism Preparedness Cooperative Agreement workgroups, and the Albuquerque Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) to identify unmet continuing education needs and to develop a well integrated program. Ten additional New Mexico healthcare professional association and agencies collaborated during the development and delivery of the program.