For Immediate Release
New technologies and training that may help emergency workers improve
their response to disasters prompted a visit from President George W.
Bush to the Georgia Institute of Technology on March 27.
Researchers at the Center for Emergency
Response Technology, Instruction and Policy (CERTIP) are developing
five technologies aimed at enhancing the response capabilities of emergency
workers. CERTIP also provides training to first responders.
Atlanta area emergency workers and CERTIP employees responded to a mock chlorine gas release in an exercise watched by President Bush, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, Congressman Saxby Chambliss of Moultrie, Ga., and Georgia Tech President Wayne Clough. Tom Bevan, director of CERTIP and Georgia Tech's Homeland Defense Initiative, coordinated the exercise, along with his staff.
The exercise gave first responders an opportunity to try out three of
the CERTIP technologies developed at the Georgia Tech Research Institute
(GTRI). They were:
Also on display for the visitors were a biosensor for detecting multiple
chemical and biological agents and the RADAR
Flashlight, also developed at GTRI. The biosensor is a shoebox-sized,
integrated-optic sensor first developed for detecting contaminants in
the food processing industry. The Flashlight -- originally developed for
the U.S. Department of Justice to help police officers find suspects hiding
behind closed doors -- can detect a human's respiration and even slight
movements through doors and walls up to 8 inches thick. It could help
rescue workers find unconscious victims, for example.
"I want to thank all who work at the Center for Emergency Response Technology, Instruction and Policy," Bush told an audience of about 2,500 that gathered Wednesday in the O'Keefe gymnasium on the Georgia Tech campus. He spoke for about 20 minutes there after viewing the emergency response exercise in a nearby parking lot.
"I have just seen a demonstration that helps prepare the emergency
workers, firefighters and the police on how to take care of a disaster
or an attack -- how best to protect the citizens," Bush added. "This
is an innovative training center. And I want to thank all those involved
with the center for your hospitality and for the chance to see firsthand
how Atlanta and the state of Georgia are preparing for any possible attack."
Georgia Tech has been a leader in training emergency responders since
1984, particularly in the area of handling hazardous materials. "CERTIP
brings together this hands-on, intensive training program with technology
development to further enable our responders to respond to a disaster
event," says CERTIP director Bevan. "This exercise gave us the
opportunity to demonstrate how we can put new technologies in the field
to quickly assess a situation and begin recovery in the event of a disaster."
During his speech at Georgia Tech, Bush recognized the hundreds of emergency
workers in the stands behind the podium, including those he had just watched
in the exercise. "Part of our homeland security measure is to enhance
the capacity of first responders to deal with any kind of emergency,"
Bush said. "And that's what we're watching today, the training of
first responders. Those who have been called into action must be able
to save as many lives as possible."
Bush cited his fiscal year 2003 budget that calls for $3.5 billion in
aid to states and local governments to enhance the capacity of first responders
to deal with any crisis that might arise. He also mentioned the $140 million
in his budget for mutual aid agreements between rural counties "to
pool their resources, their talents, their time to be able to respond
to any kind of attack," Bush said.
"We've got a big focus on the big cities, like Atlanta and the surrounding
counties," he added. "But we've also got to make sure that our
rural areas all across America also have got a capacity to respond."
Bush's visit to Georgia Tech marked the first time a sitting president
has come to the campus specifically to see research under way. Other sitting
presidents who have visited Georgia Tech include Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin
D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
Present for the president's speech were Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, Congressman Bob Barr and several state legislators.
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Writer: Jane Sanders