Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to debate H.R. 5997, the ``Medical Preparedness Allowable Use Act,'' which amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to authorize the use of Urban Area Security Initiative and State Homeland Security Grant Program funding for enhancing medical preparedness, medical surge capacity, and mass prophylaxis capabilities.
Moreover, this would involve the development and maintenance of an initial pharmaceutical stockpile, including medical kits, and diagnostics sufficient to protect first responders, their families, and immediate victims from a chemical or biological event.
As a proud Member of this body and as the Ranking Member on Homeland Security Transportation Subcommittee on Transportation, I understand the importance of maintaining an unyielding commitment to keeping the American homeland safe from weapons of mass destruction by increasing our preparedness for dealing with chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, whether they originate from individuals, terrorist organizations, and state sponsors of terror, or horrible accidents.
While much has been done to prepare our first responders for a nuclear, chemical or biological incident in the United States, the healthcare system in this country is not fully prepared to handle the resulting mass casualties that would likely result from such an attack.
Thousands of lives could potentially be saved if our medical personnel are adequately prepared and trained for such an occurrence.
The Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) provides funding to State and local governments to assist in preparing for and responding to mass casualty incidents resulting from acts of terrorism, natural disasters, and other events.
Using the grants, jurisdictions develop response plans, conduct exercises and training, and acquire medical countermeasures and personal protective equipment for dealing with biological events that occur on a large scale.
As it stands, the MMRS program has not been reauthorized or appropriated funds due to recent budgetary constraints.
MMRS Characteristics include: Integrated medical response system; detailed system response & operations plans; specially trained responders at all levels; specialized response equipment; specialized medical equipment and pharmaceutical cache; enhanced medical transport and treatment capabilities.
MMRS has 12 MMRS Capability Focus Areas, which include the following: Strengthen Medical Surge; strengthen Mass Prophylaxis; strengthen CBRNE Detection, Response, and Decontamination Capabilities; strengthen Interoperable Communication Capabilities; strengthen Information Sharing and Collaboration Capabilities; expand Regional Collaboration; triage and Pre-Hospital Treatment; medical Supplies Management and Distribution; mass Care (Sheltering, Feeding, and Related Services); emergency Public Information and Warning; fatality Management; volunteer Management and Donations.
H.R. 5997 would authorize use of Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) and State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) funding toward the enhancement of medical preparedness, medical surgery capacity, and mass prophylaxis capabilities.
This would effectively allow to MMRS program to continue using these funds, which provide important measures such as a pharmaceutical stockpile, medical kits, and diagnostics that will help to protect first responders, their families, and immediate victims from a chemical or biological act of terror or accident.
As Americans, we must ensure that we are adequately prepared for whatever challenges that we face in our Nation; and nowhere is that more true than with the potential for large-scale disasters.
Preparing for large and debilitating disasters has become an inconvenient but necessary facet of modern America, a task that our government has met head on since 9/11. This bill will help to ensure that the resources are there in order to make those preparations.