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Ebola Epidemic Response Efforts

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What is it?

The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history, affecting multiple countries in West Africa. U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), as the Department of Defense lead for coordinating defense support of civil authorities in the United States, has been given the mission to stand up a joint medical support team (MST) to assist U.S. civilian hospitals to treat patients with Ebola and prevent the further spread of this epidemic. This is based off the Oct. 19 request for assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services.

What has the Army done?

U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) (ARNORTH), USNORTHCOM’s Army component, coordinated the training of the 30 person MST consisting of health care providers from across the nation representing the Army, Navy and Air Force. Training began at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Oct. 22 and was completed Oct. 27.

The multi-agency training effort included USARNORTH’s Civil Support Training Activity (CSTA), the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRIID) and Naval Medical Research Directorate doctors selected for the MST. USAMRIID deployed instructors to train the team on donning and doffing personal protective equipment, a critical component of ensuring healthcare provider safety while treating Ebola patients. Additionally, eight CSTA subject matter experts evaluated the MST during their scenario-based certification exercise. U.S. Army Medical Command, in conjunction with the USNORTHCOM surgeon, was instrumental in providing a training syllabus and coordination among other MEDCOM and joint agencies.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?

Near term efforts will establish a world-class program of instruction for identified doctors, nurses, and trainers based on the standards and protocols as issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USAMRIID, and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Upon certification, the MST may be employed to address multiple aspects of Ebola treatment such as facilitating additional training, serving as an interim staff while the existing staff is receiving additional/refresher training, augmenting a staff treating Ebola patients, and serving as a trained surge capability to deploy anywhere in the homeland.

Why is this important to the Army?

The Army’s efforts to support its federal interagency and non-government partners are essential for unity of effort and maximizing response time in the nation’s time of need. Development and training of the DOD MST supports this whole of government approach, which is vital for leveraging resources across the nation in preparing for, protecting against, responding to and recovering from all hazards and threats in the homeland.


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