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bioterrorism, coastal/port preparedness, preparedness education, public health



  1. Richter, Jane DrPH, RN
  2. Livet, Melanie PhD(c)
  3. Stewart, Jill PhD
  4. Feigley, Charles E. PhD
  5. Scott, Geoff PhD
  6. Richter, Donna L. EdD


The unique vulnerability of the nation's ports to terrorist attacks and other major disasters requires development of specialized training approaches that integrate and connect critical stakeholders. In 2003, the University of South Carolina Center for Public Health Preparedness developed and held its first Coastal Terrorism workshop in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Key federal, regional, state, and coastal agency leaders were invited to the 2-day event to explore, in a no-risk environment, the crucial role that public health agencies would play in a covert biological agent incident aboard a cruise ship. The incident began as a possible outbreak of a Norwalk-like viral agent; however, as the scenario unfolded, evidence of a terrorist plot emerged. This immediately shifted the scenario from a public health-dominated incident to one directed by law enforcement. Communication and coordination issues surfaced illustrating potential conflicts between disciplines and jurisdictions in terms of roles and responsibilities of responding agencies. The goals of the workshop were to facilitate communication and interagency networking among coastal stakeholders while assessing their training and research needs and increasing their familiarity with resources and protocols regarding a bioterrorist coastal event. Positive systems changes were observed.