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Connecticut to Get $13 Million to Train for Attack Response

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) - The federal government will give Connecticut $13 million for training, equipment and supplies needed to respond to a bioterrorist attack.

The money will be given to the state Department of Public Health, which will distribute funding to local agencies responsible for responding to bioterrorist attacks and other public health emergencies such as anthrax poisoning or outbreaks of the SARS virus.

"Bioterrorism is an immediate threat to us," U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said Thursday while announcing the funding. "We've got to have people well trained and able to react quickly, and local government cannot do this alone. But we're not doing enough, I'll tell you. We're way behind on this."

Dodd conceded that the $13 million will not be enough for what's needed. Dodd, who is running for a fifth term, made the announcement at New London's south fire station while firefighters, state and local health workers and a state emergency response team looked on.

The funding includes $85,000 for the five-town New London region, about $100,000 for Norwich and surrounding towns and about $90,000 for the Groton region, The Day of New London reported Friday.

The federal money will be spent on making sure that responders have the training they need and can communicate with one another during an emergency. It will also be used to create a system to communicate with the public during an emergency and purchase equipment, supplies and vaccines that local responders may need.

Previous federal funding allowed state and local fire, police and health agencies to buy equipment for a mobile field hospital, mobile decontamination stations, training for emergency workers and communication equipment, including secure Web sites, cell phones and satellite radio links between hospitals.

It also helped police, fire, public health, hospital staffs and others to practice coordinating their services in the event of an attack or health emergency.

"The disciplines are working together more than ever," said Leonard Guercia Jr., director of the state public health department's Office of Emergency Medical Services.

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