Fort Belvoir is in the first stages of a program that can help the installation provide care for its members during a crisis.

Community shielding, a concept developed by the Critical Incident Analysis Group at the University of Virginia, is a public preparedness strategy to shelter citizens in place during a weapons of mass destruction attack or other large scale catastrophe, said Gregory Saathoff, associate professor of research and executive director of the CIAG at UVA.

"Even if people prepare with two to three days supplies, it won't sufficiently meet the needs for a pandemic flu," Saathoff said. The purpose of this survey is to determine military installation public education, planning and response needs related to a nuclear, chemical or biological attack or other major event.

Location and mission made Fort Belvoir an ideal place for the survey, Saathoff said.

"Its general location and its integral mission [make Fort Belvoir] a facility that deserves attention and it will serve as a model for other installations," Saathoff said.

The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences is currently conducting the first phase of the process by interviewing people at Fort Belvoir to help develop questions for a survey, which will help the organizations see how prepared Belvoir is.

USUHS will interview representatives from the installation's directorates and tenant organizations.

"I will talk to people and find out what they think are the problems at Fort Belvoir," Dr. Bob Gifford, a senior scientist in the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the USUHS said. "This survey will be tailored to Fort Belvoir to get information that the planners at Fort Belvoir can use."

USUHS will develop the survey and plans to distribute it this winter to all personnel at Fort Belvoir.

UVA, George Washington University and USUHS are joining forces to conduct and analyze the survey.

"How well you are prepared beforehand drives how well you come out of the event," said Gifford, who is a retired Army colonel. "Our job is not to tell how prepared Fort Belvoir is. Our job is to give information to the people who are making plans for Fort Belvoir."

Nancy MacNamara, director of plans, training, mobilization and security at Fort Belvoir is currently assisting USUHS in setting up interviews with stakeholders at Fort Belvoir to help develop the survey.

"No matter what occurs [individual organizations] have a certain mission that they must continue to perform," said MacNamara. "In order to perform those missions, they need their people safe. Fort Belvoir agencies are going to benefit from both a mission perspective and from a people perspective."

The Fort Belvoir survey is based on a survey that was given to more than 1,000 residents in the National Capital Region by UVA.

"Fort Belvoir is honored to be the Army's pilot study and beneficiary of the valuable data that will come from the completed project," Installation Commander Col. Brian Lauritzen said.

Page last updated Fri October 6th, 2006 at 08:54