An effort to prepare local doctors and emergency personnel to respond to terrorist attacks will benefit from $2 million that U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va, included in a bill which was recently signed into law.

“The threat from terrorists is real and varied. As we have seen, it can include biological or chemical weapons that doctors and emergency responders are not yet prepared to handle. The Virtual Medical Campus at West Virginia University (WVU) will take significant strides toward providing local responders and medical officials with information on how to identify, treat, and contain

any possible chemical or biological terrorist attack,”Byrd explained.

“WVU’s Virtual Medical Campus will provide medical preparedness information nationwide,”the Senator added.”This computer network and information system will link local doctors and emergency personnel from across the country with specialists who can immediately identify the steps that should be taken in the event of a terrorist attack to protect people living and working nearby.”

The Virtual Medical Campus is the computer network and national information delivery arm of the National Training Center for Homeland Security that is being developed collaboratively by WVU and the West Virginia National Guard.

The Fiscal Year 2002 Commerce-Justice-State Appropriations bill, which was recently signed into law, also contains $364 million to strengthen national counterterrorism efforts by helping to enhance the capabilities of state and local jurisdictions to better prepare for, and respond to, incidents of domestic terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction.

In addition to his work in the regular appropriations bills, Byrd last week won Senate approval of an $8.5 billion homeland defense package that includes $3.1 billion for bioterrorism and food safety initiatives, $400 million for state and local law enforcement training, $290 million to provide new resources for local firefighters, and $600 million to improve the U.S. Postal Service’s mail screening and terrorism detection abilities.