West Virginia University (WVU) soon will receive nearly $2 million that U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., included in legislation for an initiative aimed at preparing doctors and emergency personnel to respond to terrorist attacks on American soil.

“West Virginia University is developing what promises to be a key tool in America’s homeland security efforts,”Byrd said.

The WVU Virtual Medical Campus and its Integrated Knowledge Base (VMC/IKB) is designed to provide education, training and certification services for emergency responders. The program’s goal is to develop a nationwide information delivery and access system for education, training, and certification of police officers, firefighters, and paramedics to man-made and natural disasters.

Specifically, WVU will use the funding to continue to develop the VMC /IKB; to conduct a weapons of mass destruction exercise to assess the response of emergency teams; and to create online training programs that can assist first responders across the country.

“While our firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical personnel can respond quickly to any emergency, these rescue workers will need the rapid support of trained specialists and scientific professionals in the event of a chemical or biological attack. If such an attack occurs, updated training and quick information for emergency personnel will be the first line of defense,”Byrd said.”America’s public health system must be part of our overall homeland defense effort.”

Byrd added the funding to the Fiscal Year 2003 Omnibus Appropriations bill which was signed into law in February. In past years, Byrd has added $5 million for the Virtual Medical Campus to launch and accelerate progress at the VMC .

For more information on the WVU effort, visit the Virtual Medical Campus Internet site,http://www.vmc.wvu.edu/.