The Pentagon is fielding a 30-person expeditionary medical support team to provide immediate assistance to civilian health professionals in the U.S. if additional Ebola cases arise, the Defense Department said Sunday.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered his Northern Command Commander, Gen. Chuck Jacoby, to assemble a 30-person team that will spend a week undergoing specialized training in infection control and personal protective equipment at Fort Sam Houston in Texas. The training is expected to begin within the next week and will be provided by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.
The team will include 20 critical care nurses, five doctors trained in infectious disease and five trainers in infectious disease protocols. After training is finished, team members will remain in a "prepare to deploy" status for 30 days. They will not be dispatched overseas.
"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 wild land firefighting," Kirby said.
Two nurses contracted Ebola on U.S. soil after caring for a man, who was infected with the virus in Liberia, sought treatment at a Dallas hospital. The man, Thomas Eric Duncan, died from Ebola. The nurses are hospitalized and receiving care.
— Jim Miklaszewski, Courtney Kube and Miranda Leitsinger