UTSA hosted international conference on disaster preparation

Experts from three countries discuss strategies that respond to cross-continent emergencies

(San Antonio)--The University of Texas at San Antonio Institute for the Protection of American Communities (IPAC), East Carolina University and U.S. Northern Command's Homeland Security/Defense Education Consortium (HSDEC) teamed up to host the inaugural conference on "Preparing for and Responding to Disaster in North America," on Tuesday, Nov. 7 at the UTSA Downtown Campus Buena Vista Building Assembly Room 1.138.

The forum focused on U.S., Canadian and Mexican efforts to plan for and respond to any significant natural or man-made disaster that occurs and affects more than one country on the shared North American continent.

More than 50 attendees representing the civilian emergency preparedness, military and academic communities of the United States, Mexico and Canada heard presentations focused on a possible Avian Flu pandemic, possible catastrophic terrorism attempts on the nation's borders, and lessons learned from the Hurricane Katrina experience.

"We are excited about this conference and hope to promote a greater awareness and understanding of these kinds of issues," said Lawson Magruder, retired Army Lt. Gen. and executive director of the UTSA IPAC. "As a contributor from the academic community, UTSA hopes this inaugural conference forges new relationships and assists policy and decision makers in government and the private sector and creates follow up for additional dialogue on more focused issues."

Maj. Gen. Charles Rodriguez, adjutant general for the State of Texas opened the conference with a keynote address.

Other speakers addressing the Hurricane Katrina lessons included, Bear McConnell, interagency directorate, United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM), Jamie Kruse, director for the Center for Natural Hazards Mitigation Research at East Carolina University and Mike Lowder, deputy director for the Response Division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The second session addressed preparations for an Avian Flu and included Capt. Jim Terbush, NORTHCOM Surgeon General, Dr. Chuck Bauer, director for UT Health Science Center at San Antonio's Center for Public Health Preparedness and Education, Dr. Cherise Rohr-Allegrini, epidemiologist for San Antonio Metro Health, Jim Chambers, director of UTSA Center of Excellence in Biotechnology, Bioprocessing, Education and Research (CEBBER) and Waldo Lopez, chief of disease control for the Laredo Health Department.

The afternoon panel presentation on man-made disasters preventing catastrophic terrorism events on the borders featured Richard Kilroy, assistant professor of Political Science and Security Studies at East Carolina University, Todd Hatteley, Royal Military College of Canada, Abelardo Rodriquez, research associate for the Center for North American Strategic Studies in Mexico, Jeffrey Addicott, director of St. Mary's University's Center for Terrorism Law.

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Established in 2005, IPAC provides technical expertise and solutions to security challenges facing communities. IPAC includes the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security (CIAS), Center of Excellence in Biotechnology, Bioprocessing, Education and Research (CEBBER) and the Center for Response and Security Engineering and Technology (CRSET).

The University of Texas at San Antonio is one of the premier institutions of higher education in South Texas and one of the fastest growing universities in the state. One of nine academic universities and six health institutions that comprise the UT System, UTSA is the second largest institution in the system. Celebrating its 37th anniversary, UTSA serves more than 28,500 students enrolled in 62 bachelor's, 43 master's and 19 doctoral degree programs.

Programs are offered through the colleges of Architecture, Business, Education and Human Development, Engineering, Honors, Liberal and Fine Arts, Public Policy, and Sciences, and the Graduate School. A Top 100 Hispanic-serving institution, UTSA is ranked among the top 10. A university of access and excellence, UTSA is committed to research and discovery, teaching and learning, and public service.


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