In 2003, The University of Kansas Medical Center acquired a five-year, $8 million HRSA grant to build and enhance response capacity statewide in the event of a disaster mass casualty event caused by terrorism and natural disasters. The goal of the program was to develop a disaster response training program in various parts of the State of Kansas to prepare first responders from public health and safety to:
Recognize terrorist and natural disasters, and;
Respond in a coordinated, multidisciplinary manner.
In order to bring reality to the program, it was required to find a large concrete building and partially demolish it to simulate a bomb explosion. Next, an internationally recognized disaster training event coordinator, Rescue Training Associates (www.rescuetrain.com), loads concrete and steel obstacles into the partially demolished structure to add more difficulty to challenge first responders. In the end, KU Med provides a great public service but walks away from the structure leaving the cleanup for the owner of the building.
Obviously, it is difficult to find someone to donate a large building for this purpose. The first major event conducted was in the Kansas City area and it took two years for KU Med to find someone willing to donate a building for the exercise. The next location in Kansas for the grant was in South Central Kansas, an area of the State where KU Med did not have as strong business and political contacts needed to find a building.
Initiatives, Inc. was hired by KU Med in December 2005 to help find buildings and develop the business and political relationships necessary for KU Med to successfully conduct such a large scale event. In a matter of two months, Initiatives found four buildings. Due to the high interest and participation, KU Med later requested more buildings to accommodate high levels of enrollment in the program. Initiatives delivered two more within a month.
KU Med also wanted to use this opportunity to develop political and private sector contacts in a 19 county area in South Central Kansas. Initiatives made several introductions to political and business leaders in the Wichita community where the event took place. These introductions promoted KU Med as a strong community partner among key business and civic organizations in South Central Kansas. Initiatives was also instrumental in driving roles and responsibilities by keeping key public officials and businesses involved in the event operationally and on cue to ensure the event’s success in October 2007.