Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel today ordered the formation of a DOD medical support team that can respond rapidly to any additional outbreaks of Ebola cases in the continental United States, according to a DOD news release.
“In response to a request by the Department of Health and Human Services – and as an added prudent measure to ensure our nation is ready to respond quickly, effectively, and safely in the event of additional Ebola cases in the United States – Secretary Hagel today ordered his Northern Command Commander Gen. Chuck Jacoby, to prepare and train a 30-person expeditionary medical support team that could, if required, provide short-notice assistance to civilian medical professionals in the United States,” the release states. DOD personnel have been among the most effective responders to the Ebola outbreaks in West Africa.
“Identifying, training, and preparing forces in advance of potential requests ensures that we can respond quickly and is analogous to how we prepare DoD personnel in advance of other potential civil support missions, such as hurricane relief and wildland firefighting.”
The team now being formed, will consist of 20 critical care nurses, five doctors trained in infectious disease, and five trainers in infectious disease protocols, according to the release.
Team members are to be sent to Fort Sam Houston in Texas for up to seven days of specialized training in infection control and personal protective equipment (PPE) once the team is finalized, according to the release. The training, provided by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, is expected to start within the next week or so.
Once trained, team members will remain in a “prepare to deploy” status for 30 days, available to be sent to other locations as required within the continental United States only. They will not be sent anywhere overseas and will be called upon domestically only if deemed prudent by U.S. public health professionals.
“Identifying, training, and preparing forces in advance of potential requests ensures that we can respond quickly and is analogous to how we prepare DoD personnel in advance of other potential civil support missions, such as hurricane relief and wildland firefighting,” the release states.
“Secretary Hagel is committed to ensuring DoD is prepared to provide appropriate capabilities, as required, to support our government’s response to this deadly disease,” the release concludes. “He is extraordinarily proud of the skill and professionalism of our servicemen and women and of the unique capabilities they bring to bear in this important effort. As always, their safety and security will remain foremost on his mind.”