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Health district secures federal bioterrorism funding

Relying in part on federal anti-terrorism dollars, health district officials plan to beef up medical emergency response and preparedness this year.

Bremerton-Kitsap County Health District Director Scott Lindquist told the health policy board in early April the agency expects to receive a $125,000 federal appropriation to help complete the task.

But there are strings attached to those dollars, he said.

The local health district is charged with leading the redesign and fortifying medical preparedness planning for two other counties — Clallam and Jefferson — in addition to Kitsap.

“We will be working to revise our emergency preparedness scheme and review our strengths and weaknesses,” Lindquist said. “We will enrich the work that’s already been done and we’re in a good position right now because we’ve done a lot of the groundwork. We also need to form those partnerships” with the other counties.

Lindquist said he and other officials will craft preparedness plans that are workable in war time and peace time.

Not long after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, health district officials and Lindquist partnered with medical professionals, nurses, pharmacists, doctors and law-enforcement and emergency response agencies to educate one another on public safety and health threats and how to respond to those threats in a real emergency.

Now it’s a matter of extending and formalizing that effort throughout the tri-county region.

Preparedness planning doesn’t affect or fund the day-to-day operations of the health district because it is a uniquely earmarked project.

In the months following the terrorist attacks, Congress approved a $1 billion addition to the Public Health Threats and Emergencies Act.

Of that appropriation, Washington state will receive $20.6 million. About $18.1 million will be earmarked for public health systems statewide and the remainder would fund specific hospital planning over the next two years.

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