US soldiers get 4 hours of Ebola training before shipping out to West Africa

American soldiers are being placed in the path of the Ebola epidemic with only a couple of hours training in how to avoid contracting the disease.

Daily Beast:

Soldiers preparing for deployment to West Africa are given just four hours of Ebola-related training before leaving to combat the epidemic. And the first 500 soldiers to arrive have been holing up in Liberian hotels and government facilities while the military builds longer-term infrastructure on the ground.

For soldiers at Fort Campbell and Fort Bragg preparing for their deployments to West Africa, Mobile Training Teams from the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), based out of Fort Detrick, have been tasked with instructing them on Ebola protocols.

A team of two can train as many as 50 personnel over that four-hour time frame, USAMRIID told The Daily Beast. The training includes hands-on instruction on how to put on, remove, and decontaminate personal protective equipment, followed by a practical test to ensure that soldiers understand the procedures.

“All training is tiered to the level of risk each person may encounter,” said USAMRIID spokeswoman Caree Vander Linden.

The training process sounds daunting: One USA Today report described soldiers being told that Ebola “basically causes your body to eat itself from the inside out” and that Ebola is “worse” than what soldiers encountered in Afghanistan. Others reportedly heard that the disease is “catastrophic” and “frightening… with a high fatality rate,” though the chances of contracting it are low.

“I’ll be honest with you,” one soldier told the newspaper. “I’m kind of scared.”

The military maintains that the risk of contracting the virus is minimal. Ebola is not an airborne disease, and there are no plans for U.S. service members deployed to West Africa to have any contact with sick patients.

While military personnel will not be treating Ebola victims directly, uniformed members of the Public Health Service will staff an Ebola hospital, according to The Hill:

The commander in charge of the U.S. response to Ebola in Africa said Thursday that 65 U.S. uniformed personnel would soon staff a 25-bed hospital in Monrovia that will directly treat Liberian healthcare workers if they are infected. 

"They will actually be involved in the care and feeding of health care workers who have been infected with the Ebola virus," said Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, commander of Operation United Assistance Joint Force, at a Pentagon briefing Thursday. 

Although the team members are uniformed personnel, they are not considered "troops" because they serve as part of the U.S. Public Health Service under the Department of Health and Human Services, not the Pentagon. 

"The U.S. Public Health Services are actually providing support to healthcare workers ... if they unfortunately are stricken with the disease," Williams said. 

"That's what their purpose is, that 65. The 25-bed hospital, I hope we never have to put anybody in it, but that's the purpose of the U.S. Public Health Services," he said. 

The Pentagon has repeatedly said that with the exception of several dozen highly skilled troops who will man mobile testing laboratories in Liberia and could handle Ebola samples, no troops would come into contact with Ebola patients.

The assertion was restated on Thursday.

"I want to emphasize again that no U.S. military personnel will be providing direct patient care to the local population," Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Thursday at a State Department briefing.

I don't think anyone knows how serious the risk is to our people. Four hours is not enough time to completely familiarize oneself with the many protocols and safety procedures necessary to significantly reduce the chances of catching the virus. Hopefully, there will be frequent reviews of those procedures while our people are in the hot zone.

 

American soldiers are being placed in the path of the Ebola epidemic with only a couple of hours training in how to avoid contracting the disease.

Daily Beast:

Soldiers preparing for deployment to West Africa are given just four hours of Ebola-related training before leaving to combat the epidemic. And the first 500 soldiers to arrive have been holing up in Liberian hotels and government facilities while the military builds longer-term infrastructure on the ground.

For soldiers at Fort Campbell and Fort Bragg preparing for their deployments to West Africa, Mobile Training Teams from the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), based out of Fort Detrick, have been tasked with instructing them on Ebola protocols.

A team of two can train as many as 50 personnel over that four-hour time frame, USAMRIID told The Daily Beast. The training includes hands-on instruction on how to put on, remove, and decontaminate personal protective equipment, followed by a practical test to ensure that soldiers understand the procedures.

“All training is tiered to the level of risk each person may encounter,” said USAMRIID spokeswoman Caree Vander Linden.

The training process sounds daunting: One USA Today report described soldiers being told that Ebola “basically causes your body to eat itself from the inside out” and that Ebola is “worse” than what soldiers encountered in Afghanistan. Others reportedly heard that the disease is “catastrophic” and “frightening… with a high fatality rate,” though the chances of contracting it are low.

“I’ll be honest with you,” one soldier told the newspaper. “I’m kind of scared.”

The military maintains that the risk of contracting the virus is minimal. Ebola is not an airborne disease, and there are no plans for U.S. service members deployed to West Africa to have any contact with sick patients.

While military personnel will not be treating Ebola victims directly, uniformed members of the Public Health Service will staff an Ebola hospital, according to The Hill:

The commander in charge of the U.S. response to Ebola in Africa said Thursday that 65 U.S. uniformed personnel would soon staff a 25-bed hospital in Monrovia that will directly treat Liberian healthcare workers if they are infected. 

"They will actually be involved in the care and feeding of health care workers who have been infected with the Ebola virus," said Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, commander of Operation United Assistance Joint Force, at a Pentagon briefing Thursday. 

Although the team members are uniformed personnel, they are not considered "troops" because they serve as part of the U.S. Public Health Service under the Department of Health and Human Services, not the Pentagon. 

"The U.S. Public Health Services are actually providing support to healthcare workers ... if they unfortunately are stricken with the disease," Williams said. 

"That's what their purpose is, that 65. The 25-bed hospital, I hope we never have to put anybody in it, but that's the purpose of the U.S. Public Health Services," he said. 

The Pentagon has repeatedly said that with the exception of several dozen highly skilled troops who will man mobile testing laboratories in Liberia and could handle Ebola samples, no troops would come into contact with Ebola patients.

The assertion was restated on Thursday.

"I want to emphasize again that no U.S. military personnel will be providing direct patient care to the local population," Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Thursday at a State Department briefing.

I don't think anyone knows how serious the risk is to our people. Four hours is not enough time to completely familiarize oneself with the many protocols and safety procedures necessary to significantly reduce the chances of catching the virus. Hopefully, there will be frequent reviews of those procedures while our people are in the hot zone.