Members of the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) have coordinated a ground-breaking conference on terrorism geared to prepare the nursing community and related health care fields. Planners believe it is the first statewide nursing-focused conference of its kind on the subject matter. The two-day program is scheduled for January 17 and 18 at the Touchstone RiverCentre in St. Paul and will feature state and national experts in preparedness.

``In the wake of extraordinary events this past fall, nurses and their health care colleagues throughout the state are demanding practical information about biological agents and the illnesses and injuries associated with biological terrorism and any other type of terrorist activity,'' said MNA President Monica Vollmuth, MA, RN, CNP. ``The nursing community has expressed a need for training that addresses its specific situations. This conference is planned by nurses intimately aware of those needs.''

``On Alert: Nursing Readiness for Terrorism'' represents the planning efforts of a number of organizations including MNA, Minnesota Visiting Nurses Association, the Minnesota Association of Colleges of Nursing, SEIU Local 113 and the Minnesota Colleagues in Caring Collaborative, along with staff members from Senator Paul Wellstone's office.

Topics include clinical sessions on infection control, pandemic agents and isolation/decontamination. Participants will also gain first-hand knowledge on regional and local disaster plans. The program will also address ethical dilemmas and psychological effects of disasters -- both on the client and clinicians.

Conference planners have secured a noteworthy roster of speakers including Senator Paul Wellstone, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Assistant State Epidemiologist Richard Danilla and Interim President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross, Harold J. Decker. Decker has led the organization since October 27 after having served as its general counsel. He was chief litigator for Pharmacia pharmaceutical company before coming to the American Red Cross in February 2001. He is expected to provide first hand perspectives of working at ``ground zero'' in his remarks at luncheon on the first day of the conference.

Tuition for two days is $150. More details about the conference and interactive registration are available on line at www.mnnurses.org

With more than 15,500 members, MNA is the leading organization for registered nurses in the Midwest and is among the oldest and largest representatives of RNs for collective bargaining in the nation. Established in 1905, MNA is a multi-purpose organization that fosters high standards for nursing education and practice, and works to advance the profession through legislative activity. MNA is a constituent member of the American Nurses Association and its labor arm, the United American Nurses.