DAYTON, OH-The Ohio Department of Health has awarded a $2.2 million contract in support of medical readiness and disaster preparedness to the Department of Emergency Medicine at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine.
"This money from the State will move us from believing that we are prepared to actually being prepared for whatever catastrophic event may befall our community," says Glenn Hamilton, M.D., professor and chair of emergency medicine, who is a certified project manager in medical management and will help oversee the project.
In the State contract, the Homeland Emergency Preparedness and Learning (H.E.L.P.) Center, a community-wide effort to better prepare our community for large scale emergencies, will have a significant role. Established by the Department of Emergency Medicine last year, the H.E.L.P. Center will lead the development of a region-wide disaster preparedness plan and the establishment of a new medical operations facility. This new facility will be an acute care center for both adults and children that can be quickly moved to a disaster site. It will include outpatient and inpatient treatment capability for 1,000 people.
"Our goal is to develop a collaborative model that brings together the training, personnel, facilities, and operations for disaster planning," says Mark Gebhart, M.D., project director and assistant professor of emergency medicine. "We want to ensure medical readiness for all hazards, natural or man made. Wright State has assembled a team with extraordinary talent and expertise. This group will work to protect our medical capabilities during a disaster. It will also strive to create additional projects capable of fueling the regional economic engine. We want to assist in bringing jobs and additional resources to the area while meeting critical community needs."
Gebhart also serves as medical director for Ohio Task Force One, a federal Urban Search and Rescue team, and as a regional trainer for National Disaster Life Support courses. He recently developed an emergency preparedness track for Wright State's Master in Public Health degree program.
The new acute care center will be fully self-sufficient for up to 72 hours and can operate as a stand alone medical facility in an austere environment. The acute care center will include food and water, medical supplies, medical equipment, and pharmaceuticals, as well as decontamination units, generators, and communications equipment.
Staffing will occur by means of agreements between the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association and the faculty, residents, and students at the Boonshoft School of Medicine. "Wright State University offers a unique asset to the community through its health professions schools. We have long-term cooperative relationships with the region's health care professionals and hospitals, including federal institutions at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Veteran's Administration," says Hamilton.
The first phase of the project is to form a community advisory task force to finalize a comprehensive plan for such a facility, including staffing, logistics, maintenance, transportation, security, and operations. Due by mid-April to state officials, this plan will involve a broad cross section of first responders. State organizations involved include the Ohio Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, Ohio Medical Society, Ohio Department of Homeland Security, Ohio Emergency Management Agency, and Ohio Department of Public Safety. Local personnel in public health, nursing, fire, public safety, rescue services, and medicine are involved in the planning process.
"One of the attributes of a community-based medical school is that everyday working relationships inspire true collaboration for projects that impact the health of us all," says Howard Part, M.D., dean of the Boonshoft School of Medicine.
By summer, the blueprint developed by the task force will establish Ohio's first acute care in the Miami Valley. When not in use, the facility will serve as a training site for medical providers and first responders. The contract also calls for a training role to involve all of Ohio's seven homeland security planning regions.
As a training site for medical personnel, hospital staff, fire and EMS departments, the facility will incorporate high-tech human patient simulators and a table top disaster planning simulator as well as nationally developed curriculum.
Timothy Shaw, J.D., a clinical professional associate in emergency medicine, will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the project. He has more than 20 years of experience in the area of homeland security as a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agent and has provided extensive training for SWAT, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and street survival.
"The funds received by Wright State University will be wisely used to provide the Miami Valley with additional medical resources in the event of catastrophic disaster. Through the HELP Center, Wright State works collaboratively with federal, state, and local governments as well as private sector organizations to enhance domestic preparedness and homeland security," says Gebhart. "This is an insurance policy for the area. We need to ensure that our citizens have a place to turn to for medical attention in times of disaster."