The Pentagon will build a 30-person, rapid-response Ebola medical support team to aid civilian health care workers should additional cases of the virus be diagnosed in the U.S., officials said Sunday.
The effort was requested by the Department of Health and Human Services “as an added prudent measure to ensure our nation is ready to respond quickly, effectively and safely in the event of additional Ebola cases,” a Pentagon statement said.
The Pentagon said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered his Northern Command Commander, Gen. Chuck Jacoby, to prepare and train the team. It will include 20 critical-care nurses, five doctors trained in infectious disease and five 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, the Pentagon said. That training is expected to start within the next week or so and will be provided by the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.
Team members will remain in a “prepare to deploy” status for 30 days after training. 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,” the statement said.
“Identifying, training and preparing forces in advance of potential requests ensures that we can respond quickly and is analogous to how we prepare (Defense Department) personnel in advance of other potential civil-support missions, such as hurricane relief and wild-land firefighting,” the statement said.