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Last Updated: Monday, 20 September, 2004, 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
Degree in coping with disasters
Emergency workers
Chemical spillages are one of the hazards dealt with on the course
A degree course has been set up to help the emergency services deal with disasters such as flooding, chemical spillages and terrorist attacks.

The masters course, starting next year at Coventry University, enhances the skills of those working in the immediate aftermath of major incidents.

Emergency planners, paramedics, nurses and relief workers will benefit.

Course leader Dr Eleanor Parker said the course would promote a "more robust" response to disasters.

Extreme weather

She added that the increased threat from global terrorism was one of the reasons for setting up the course.

People were "beginning to focus on terrorism" and in some cases were "waiting for al-Qaeda to strike".

However, the bigger risks to life came from "land slides, chemical spills or major road traffic accidents", Dr Parker added.

The one-year course, which starts in January, costs 3,010 and is expected to have between 15 and 20 students.

Les Moseley, director of the Coventry Centre for Disaster Management, said: "This course is directed initially at practitioners to qualify them properly for professional careers.

"However, it has also been designed to appeal to people from the private sector and the voluntary sector who want to apply principles of crisis management and effective planning to their own operations."

In 1994, Coventry University became the first UK institution to offer undergraduate courses in disaster management.

Former students have gone on to work across the world in countries including Bangladesh, Mozambique and Ethiopia.

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