KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany (Nov. 10, 2014) -- Out of an abundance of caution and to ensure the Ebola virus does not spread into Germany via U.S. military personnel, the 21st Theater Sustainment Command has developed a plan for controlled monitoring of all uniformed Department of Defense personnel home-stationed in Germany, redeploying from areas in West Africa affected by the Ebola virus disease.
"Our mission, with this controlled-monitoring area and these procedures, is to ensure protection from the Ebola Virus Disease for our German partners and to take the best possible care of our Soldiers," said Maj. Gen. John R. O'Connor, the commanding general of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command.
Service members coming from Centers for Disease Control-defined Ebola outbreak areas in West Africa in support of Operation United Assistance will touch down at Ramstein Airbase and receive a medical screening from Air Force medical personnel, which will include taking the returning Service members' temperature as well as a series of questions designed to identify any symptoms of Ebola.
According to Maj. Chad C. Black, the deploying element's command surgeon, any service members presenting with symptoms that could potentially be related to Ebola, to include presenting with a fever equal to or greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, will be automatically be transferred to a secure facility at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, specifically designed and equipped to detect the Ebola virus in potentially infected patients.
Medically cleared reintegrating personnel are then released to the 16th Sustainment Brigade for transport to a controlled monitoring area in Baumholder, Black added.
"Our goal with these procedures are to ensure that each and every Service member returning from Africa has the ability to safely reintegrate into their communities here in Germany, without running the risk of exposing their family and friends to the Ebola virus," said Col. R. Scott Dingle, the commander of the 30th Medical Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command. "It is important to know that no Service member infected with Ebola or even symptomatic of Ebola will be staying at the controlled monitoring facility in Baumholder. The purpose of their stay there is to identify any possible exposure to the virus early, and allow the member to receive treatment as soon as symptoms are detected, without running the risk of exposing their home communities."
Soldiers going through the Department of Defense-mandated 21-day controlled monitoring period will stay in one of four barracks-style buildings, on Smith Barracks in Baumholder, capable of housing approximately 200 Soldiers. Each building will have a dining area, gym, internet, televisions and telephones. During their stay, each Soldier will be screened by medical personnel twice daily for body temperature, symptoms of Ebola and to ensure anti-malarial medication is taken.
"If a Soldier becomes injured or sick with a disease other than Ebola, there is also a clinic in the controlled monitoring area," Black said. "If a Soldier becomes symptomatic of Ebola while in the controlled monitoring area, they would be transported immediately to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center for confirmatory testing as mentioned before."
Time spent at in the controlled monitoring area will not be time wasted according to officials. The plan is to utilize the time to complete routine mandatory post-deployment training and administrative requirements prior to Service members returning to their home units.
"Our aim is to ensure that each and every Service member transitioning from deployments in Africa are afforded every opportunity to maintain their morale and welfare while staying at the controlled monitoring facilities," said Col. Scott Murray, the commander of the 16th Sustainment Brigade. "While here, Service members will be able to conduct physical training, maintain contact with loved ones, attend religious services through telecommunications, and have access to professionals who specialize in resiliency and coping skills should they need to utilize those services."
The U.S. government is coordinating these measures with host nation officials. Use of the facilities at Smith Barracks in Baumholder is contingent upon host nation approval.
For more information on the Ebola virus disease, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html.