New Center Formed to Help Plan and Prepare for Mass Casualty Events throughout Upstate New York

October 26, 2006

"By marshalling the rich educational, clinical and research resources found only at academic health centers, we are streamlining our ability to efficiently develop processes and systems to better respond to disasters."

A consortium aimed at preparing upstate New York for mass casualty events resulting from terrorism or natural disasters was officially launched today with $750,000 in funding secured by Sen. Joseph Robach. The Academic Health Center Consortium for Mass Casualty Management (AHCC) is comprised of four academic health centers covering the broad geography of upstate New York from Buffalo to AlbanySchool of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, University of Rochester Medical Center, Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, and Albany Medical College

The Consortium will provide an umbrella framework to coordinate research, education and patient care efforts as it relates to mass casualty planning and response among the four institutions. In addition, members will conduct research in diagnosis and treatment of terrorism-related illness and injury, with an emphasis on using technology to streamline and triage care for hundreds of patients who could be simultaneously injured during mass casualty events.

“By marshalling the rich educational, clinical and research resources found only at academic health centers, we are streamlining our ability to efficiently develop processes and systems to better respond to disasters,” said Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., chief executive officer of the Medical Center.  “I am thankful to Senator Robach for his vision and determination to provide the funding vital to make this Consortium a meaningful and effective organization.”

“I am happy to announce this state funding to support education, training and research to ensure that these hospital systems have the capacity to detect and respond to public health emergencies, both naturally and manmade,” stated Senator Joe Robach.  “This funding will better protect New Yorkers from the threat against terrorism by improving clinical care, enhancing the medical response to mass casualty incidents and addressing the gaps in the training and education of front line healthcare professionals.”

According to Glenn Currier, M.D., M.P.H., director of AHCC and associate professor of psychiatry and emergency medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Consortium members have been meeting for two years to outline the scope of the organization’s goals and activities.

“From SARS to dirty bomb threats, there are constant reminders that mass casualty events can hit upstate New York at anytime,” Currier said.  “Consortium members are working together to promote research that will help health and hospitals systems’ better detect and respond to public health emergencies.”

“This Consortium on Mass Casualty Management brings together some of the world's leading expertise in this area for the ultimate ability to develop optimum systems to respond to public health emergencies that could occur at any time in New York state or elsewhere in the U.S.,” said Bruce Holm, M.D., senior vice provost and professor in the Departments of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Pharmacology and Toxicology at the State University of New York at Buffalo. 

"Adequately preparing for a potential mass casualty event requires a team approach," said Mara McErlean, M.D., chair of Emergency Medicine at the Albany Medical College. "We commend Senator Robach for recognizing this need and look forward to working with our fellow academic health centers throughout upstate New York to further strengthen our emergency preparedness."

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