December 20, 2002

School of Nursing houses national emergency center

Featured Image

Dr. Harry R. Jacobson

School of Nursing houses national emergency center

Creating new tools to fight terrorism and help communities better prepare for large scale disasters will be the focus of a new National Center for Emergency Preparedness (NCEP), established this week at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The NCEP, which will utilize VUMC as a model to train other emergency officials, is the brainchild of Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., dean of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing. Welch said her experience participating in the National Health Professionals Preparedness Consortium and the International Nursing Coalition for Mass Casualty Education prompted the establishment of the NCEP.

“Our experience over the last two years has shown that there lacks a comprehensive program and environment that can bring all of the various agencies together and design a systematic response to large scale emergencies,” she explained. “The National Center for Emergency Preparedness will do just that — we will provide leadership by developing, implementing, and evaluating technological capabilities, and creating an interdisciplinary approach to disasters by involving all aspects of health care and emergency response personnel.”

Welch said the NCEP will be managed by Vanderbilt’s School of Nursing, and she has appointed Stephen L. Guillot Jr. as director. Guillot also serves as executive director of the National Health Professionals Preparedness Consortium.

Guillot brings with him a wealth of expertise in the delivery of terrorism and emergency responder training programs. He is the former director of the National Center for Bio-Medical Research and Training at Louisiana State University, where he also headed the LSU Academy of Counter-Terrorist Education program.

“Vanderbilt, with its highly regarded medical and nursing schools, will allow the NCEP to provide world expertise in many areas important to disaster preparedness,” Guillot said. “We will focus on the more than 12 million emergency responders throughout the nation to develop bioterrorism and natural disaster techniques and equipment.”

NCEPs first mission will be to continue and expand its involvement in the National Health Professions Preparedness Consortium (NHPPC). As a founding member and the managing institution of the NHPPC, VUSN assisted in the development of a comprehensive Five-Year Strategic Plan for the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) designed to accomplish three objectives: establish a world class training academy at the PHS Noble Training Center in Anniston, Ala.; develop the recognized performance level course for health care and emergency response personnel professions responsible for WMD/MCI preparations, titled Healthcare Leadership and Administrative Decision-Making in Response to WMD/MCI; and develop comprehensive professional curricula specifically designed for nurses, physicians EMT/paramedics, allied health, and hospital administration and managers.

Guillot will be assisted by John J. Walsh Jr., who has been named assistant director of the NCEP. Walsh, who brings with him a strong background in law enforcement, was the associate director of the National Center for Bio-Medical Research and Training at LSU, and is the former executive director of the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association. Walsh holds a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from Oklahoma City University.

Guillot said the NCEP, which when fully staffed could have as many as 25 full-time employees, would have experts who have a diverse background in medicine, public health, law enforcement, education and emergency response.