VALDOSTA -- South Georgia Medical Center has received notification that it will be awarded approximately $93,000 in grants from the Office of Domestic Preparedness through the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

The first of the two grants will provide equipment, exercises and training needed for medical center staff members to handle incidents involving hazardous materials and weapons of mass destruction.

The second grant, for $62,235, was awarded to the medical center's Mobile Healthcare Services for the procurement of a 20-foot trailer, equipment and supplies to assist in the medical management of catastrophic events in our area. The trailer will be filled with a variety of items, including portable tents, portable generators, disaster management tools, victim transport litters, personal protective equipment and supplies, multi-victim oxygen delivery system, four automated defibrillator units, and patient care supplies for 150 people. Mobile Healthcare Services Chief Tim Brogdon said GEMA grants are funding trailers at prime locations all over the state for area first responders to maintain and deliver to catastrophic events as needed.

"With the ratcheting down of healthcare reimbursements from both the federal and state governments, this funding is a blessing for our community," said South Georgia Medical Center Chief Executive Officer James McGahee. "It would have been difficult for us to budget for this level of training and supplies. This grant will enhance our current decontamination capabilities as well as support other local emergency responders in their decontamination responses."

The medical center has organized a decontamination and emergency management team which has begun a rigorous training program using the new equipment. Environment of Care Coordinator Janna Guess, the medical center's decontamination and emergency management team meets all Occupational Safety and Health Administration and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health regulations.

"As the largest healthcare provider in the district, South Georgia Medical Center is expected to provide assistance for victims of all disasters, including weapons of mass destruction, radiological or natural disasters," Guess said.

To receive these grant funds, South Georgia Medical Center officials had to agree to provide mutual aid statewide in the event such a disaster occurs.

"We are prepared to assist however needed," Brogdon said. "We have worked closely with local first responders from law enforcement and the fire department to create a cohesive, network response to weapons of mass destruction events."

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