House passes Medical Preparedness Allowable Use Act

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation on Tuesday that would ensure that homeland security grant money is available for medical preparedness activities, including medical supplies used by first responders.

The bill, which was introduced by Reps. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) and Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and makes it clear that grant money from the Urban Area Security Initiative and State Homeland Security Grant Program can be used to purchase medical countermeasures and enhance medical preparedness.

Brooks is the current chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security's Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications. She praised the passage of the bill and expressed her gratitude to Bilirakis for his hard work and support.

"I am pleased the House has passed this critical legislation that clarifies the important role our emergency medical response community plays in national preparedness and response efforts," Brooks said. "When our emergency response providers have the resources necessary to purchase vital equipment and conduct necessary drills, their level of coordination and preparation saves lives when disasters strike."

Bilirakis held the chairman post of the subcommittee in the prior Congress. He thanked Brooks for her commitment to the legislation.

"Experts have repeatedly noted that the threat of a (weapons of mass destruction) attack is real," Bilirakis said. "We must take steps now to ensure the necessary plans, medication and equipment are available to protect the public, especially first responders, in the event of an attack. The legislation passed by the House today recognizes the continued importance of ensuring medical preparedness activities remain allowable grant uses."

Bilirakis said he looked forward to working with his colleagues in the Senate to ensure the bill is signed into law.