While President Obama met with his senior health, homeland security, and national security advisors last week to review the United States’ response to the Ebola epidemic, a Pentagon statement informed Sunday that the administration has decided to form a special team to combat the epidemic.
The statement came from Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby on Department of Defense support for Department of Health and Human Services.
“In response to a request by the Department of Health and Human Services — and as an added prudent measure to ensure our nation is ready to respond quickly, effectively, and safely in the event of additional Ebola cases in the United States — Secretary Hagel ordered his Northern Command Commander, Gen. Chuck Jacoby, to prepare and train a 30-person expeditionary medical support team that could, if required, provide short-notice assistance to civilian medical professionals in the United States.
Gen. Jacoby is now working with the military services to source and to form this joint team. The team will consist of 20 critical care nurses, 5 doctors trained in infectious disease, and 5 trainers in infectious disease protocols.
Once formed, team members will be sent to Fort Sam Houston in Texas for up to seven days of specialized training in infection control and personal protective equipment (PPE). That training is expected to start within a week or so and will be provided by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.
Upon conclusion of training, team members will remain in a “prepare to deploy” status for 30 days, available to be sent to other CONUS (Contiguous United States) locations as required. They will not be sent to West Africa or elsewhere overseas and will be called upon domestically only if deemed prudent by our public health professionals, according to the statement.