With Ebola still a growing threat in West Africa and the virus finding its way into the country, the United States steps up to the challenge by preparing a medical response team for its own.
Made up of 10 critical care nurses, 10 non-critical care nurses, five doctors adept in infectious diseases, critical care, and internal medicine, and five individuals specially trained in infection control, the medical response team will be called upon should new Ebola cases be identified in the country. To make sure they are up to the task, the team will be receiving world-class training at the Education, Training and Simulation Department of the San Antonio Military Medical Center.
Command surgeon Air Force Col. John J. DeGoes said that Northcom commander Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr. had emphasized the absolute importance of properly training the team. Should there be a need to extend the training schedule, it will be extended.
"We're using really good training items. This isn't your grandfather's training where you're just sitting in a bland classroom hearing lectures and seeing PowerPoint [presentations]. They can simulate all the things that you would do in an Ebola patient that was mildly sick to completely sick," explained DeGoes.
Team members will be practicing putting on personal protective equipment in simulated conditions, designed to aid the team in using their new skills in an actual care environment. They will also be learning how to properly take off personal protective equipment to ensure zero contamination in outside spaces after coming into contact with an Ebola patient.
As a precaution, all team members will also be taking their own temperatures two times a day. This will be done each day they are working and even after they are done to protect them and those around them in the unlikely event of infection. As with all other Ebola patients, the sooner a team member is diagnosed, the sooner they can be provided the care they need to recover and essentially stem another infection.
DeGoes adds that all team members are well aware of the risks they will be facing once they are called upon, but their country needs them as they are "some of the best the military health system has to offer."
While the medical response team is being put together because of Ebola, the strategic plan behind the team's development may be used for other purposes in the future as well. Key to the success of the medical response team is united effort from the Department of Defense, Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Guard.