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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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GW to train first responders

Congress granted GW $5 million to establish a first responder training center at the Virginia campus Thursday that will provide emergency response training.

The Response to Emergencies and Disasters Institute will be housed in the former PSINet building, purchased by the University last year, next to the Loudoun County campus. The institute will work to train firefighters, EMS workers and law enforcement to respond to medical emergencies created by major disasters including terrorism.

“What we’ve found since 9/11 is that there is a gap in what first responders know about the medical aspect of emergency response,” said Daniel Kaniewski, executive director of the Center for Emergency Preparedness. “Right now, there’s very little communication between, say, a firefighter and a hospital.”

The institute will use GW’s medical school and will partner with George Mason University and Shenandoah University in the effort. The institute will also work with the Virginia Institute for Defense and Homeland Security.

“GW has a great reputation for its medical school and public hospital and it had a location that was set up and ready to go,” said Dan Scandling, spokesperson for Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.). “When you combine that (with) the nursing school of George Mason and the pharmaceutical training of Shenandoah, the institute will have the potential to train thousands of first responders.”

The Medical Center has been conducting first responder training for more than 20 years, and READI will expand on existing emergency response programs.

READI will be staffed by a core group of GW faculty already working in this field and may require additional personnel, Kaniewski said.

John Wilson, executive dean of the Virginia campus, said he believes the institute “is timely and meets a compelling societal need.”

Medical Center administrators adopted the idea for READI shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks. A school-wide effort was made to lobby Congress for a grant to spearhead the project.

The grant was under an appropriation included in the Congressional spending bill for the 2003 fiscal year, signed into law last Thursday.

The University hopes to receive additional funding from Congress to pay for the institute’s operations over the years, Kaniewski said, though “there is never a guarantee.”

GW officials said they saw the establishment of READI as a boon to the University’s reputation.

Kaniewski said the institute would give GW greater national recognition as a leader in public safety and security initiatives.

“This will put GW in the national spotlight by exploring an area traditionally ignored by many universities,” said Kaniewski. “It will show the nation that GW is a leader in emergency response training. The end result will be a more secure country.”

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