Fighting Biological Terrorism Grant Takes Aim at Foiling Threats

Article excerpt

Chip Patterson plans for the unknown, unexpected and unlikely.

While Jacksonville's emergency preparedness division has a higher profile for its efforts during hurricane scares, the division that Patterson heads eventually will be ready to fight biological terrorism, thanks to a $200,000 federal grant.

Jacksonville is one of 27 cities nationwide -- including Miami, Dallas, Memphis, Tenn., Atlanta and New York City -- to receive the funding earlier this week from the U.S. Public Health Service, said Deric Gilliard, a spokesman for the agency's regional office in Atlanta.

The money will be used to draft detection, response and communication plans for such possible threats as the intentional spreading of smallpox, botulism, anthrax or ricin, a poison made by distilling castor beans, Patterson said.

Most of the work will be done by experts at the Tampa-based University of South Florida's College of Public Health during the next 12 months. "It's beyond what our experience is," Patterson said about turning to the college for help. …