By Air Force Staff Sgt. Chris HubenthalNovember 4, 2014
TRIPLER ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Hawaii (Nov. 4, 2014) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official website states that this year's Ebola epidemic marks the largest number of confirmed cases of Ebola in history.
In order to efficiently respond to an outbreak, Soldiers here trained to ensure they have the skill sets to properly don and doff personal protective equipment, or PPE, to defend themselves and patients against further infection, Thursday.
A team of experts from the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, known as USAMRIID, taught Service members on how to use necessary equipment while working around an infectious patient.
According to the U.S. Army Medical Department official website, the USAMRIID has spearheaded research to develop medical solutions in the form of vaccines, drugs, diagnostics and information, to protect military Service members from biological threats.
Lt. Col. Neal Woollen, USAMRIID director of bio security, explained why the training is necessary for Service members.
"Probably one of the highest risks that a person can face with regard to Ebola, is rendering care to someone who is sick with the Ebola Virus Disease, because they are going to be in a very virus rich environment, and they're going to be naturally very close, personally touching those individuals and coming into contact with body fluids and discharge from that sick individual," Woollen said.
Service members practiced donning and doffing PPE to prepare for the chance of a real-world scenario.
"We want to be able to give them the maximum protection, and this training is all geared toward helping them be able to don the correct protective posture to be able to work safely with an Ebola patient," Woolen said. "Even more importantly, after they finish working, to properly take that protective equipment off without spreading virus from the contaminated area to what we want to maintain as a non-contaminated area, a clean area."
Col. Evelyn Barraza, Tripler Army Medical Center chief of preventive medicine, explained what the TAMC staff hopes to take away from the training.
"Because of the seriousness of Ebola, we want to make sure our staff has been able to receive all the training that we can provide them," Barraza said. "We want to make sure they understand how to wear the PPE. One of the lessons learned, at least from the [Centers for Disease Control] and the World Health Organization, is that the proper sequencing of putting it on and taking it off is very important. Any misstep along the way can be a potential risk factor for a health care worker."
Air Force Lt. Col. Chris Cieurzo, 15th Medical Group and 96th Aerospace Medicine Squadron chief of aerospace medicine, explained how his team was able to benefit from the training.
"We're trying to get mandatory training that the Department of Defense has required of all military treatment facilities to prepare for possible infectious patients," Cieurzo said. "The requirement is for us to prepare and drill an event where an infectious patient may show up even at an outpatient treatment facility, and in order to manage those folks, we need to use the proper protective equipment to protect our staff as well as the patient."
Cieurzo said that the training and knowledge gathered during the class is just a first step in readiness.
"Our take away is that there are definitely challenges in using this equipment, but there are ways to overcome it, and our hope is to start training the remainder of our staff with what we learned here today," Cieurzo said.