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DoD Health Official Details Prep for WMD Response

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

FALLS CHURCH, Va., Oct. 25, 2002 – Defense Department health care professionals are preparing to respond to a terrorist or weapons of mass destruction attack anywhere in the world,

Edward P. Wyatt Jr., principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, spoke to reporters here recently and highlighted what DoD is doing with the Department of Health and Human Services and local, state and federal agencies engaged in preparing for response to attacks in the homeland.

Wyatt said coordinated efforts include research and development and procurement. And, importantly, he remarked, these collaborative initiatives involve local- level training and exercising with state and local authorities to ensure all understand how to best integrate resources to address an emergency or contingency situation.

He said people in some circles believe the military could quickly organize and move large assets into areas in response to disasters, terrorist attacks and natural catastrophes, such as earthquakes. This is a military function under the Federal Response Plan, he said, and military health units would be made available if possible.

He said local authorities' planning drives the help the military and other federal agencies can deliver to local first-responders when and where disaster strikes.

"The challenge is to integrate what's happening at those local and state level activities into what might be potential support from the military health care system," he said.

Calling DoD's health care professionals "well prepared and practiced," Wyatt said they train with local fire departments, rescue response teams and others on how they respond to emergencies in local communities.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageEdward P. Wyatt Jr., principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, said DoD healthcare professionals are "well-prepared and practiced " to handle any contingency anywhere in the world. Photo by Rudi Williams.   
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