June 28, 2002

Frist pens bioterrorism guide for families

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Frist pens bioterrorism guide for families

Calling bioterrorism a “threat to all Americans,” former Vanderbilt heart surgeon and current U.S. Senator Dr. Bill Frist has written a book designed to equip families with information on bioterrorism.

Dr. John A. Morris Jr., professor of Surgery and director of the division of Trauma, helped provide input and guidance to Frist on draft copies of the book, “When Every Moment Counts.”

Morris described the book as one of the most practical and user-friendly books he had seen on the topic of bioterrorism.

“This is a practical book for lay people that is chock-full of relevant information,” Morris said. “It will be the first resource that the network news anchors will turn to if we have a bioterrorism event.”

Frist joined the teaching faculty at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 1985 where he was the founding surgical director of the multi-disciplinary Vanderbilt Transplant Center. While at VUMC, he performed more than 200 heart and lung transplant procedures.

The book provides 11 chapters of information, including a family survival guide, descriptions of different biological agents, and a list of Internet resources. Proceeds from the sale of the book will go to public health agencies.

In a recent speech in Nashville, Frist said biological weapons are largely considered ideal for use by terrorists because “these germs can’t be seen, smelled — they know no boundaries.”

In addition to families being prepared, Frist has repeatedly called for funding for local hospitals and health departments to help them better prepare for a bioterrorism attack.

He said this increase in funding would act as a dual investment. If future attacks are avoided, bioterrorism research money could further the development of vaccines against AIDS and other virus-induced illnesses. It could also help reduce 20,000 annual flu deaths and 5,000 food poisoning fatalities.