Defense Secretary Hagel yesterday ordered his Northern Command Commander, Gen. Chuck Jacoby, to prepare and train a 30-person expeditionary medical support team that could provide short-notice assistance to civilian medical professionals in the United States.
Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby issued a statement saying Gen. Jacoby is now working with the military services to source and to form this joint team.
The new Ebola Support Team will include:
- 20 critical care nurses
- 5 doctors trained in infectious disease
- 5 trainers in infectious disease protocols
Once formed, team members will be sent to Fort Sam Houston in Texas for specialized training in infection control and personal protective equipment (PPE). That training is expected to start within the next 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 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.
The Department of Defense created an Ebola Task Force in August to better understand the situation in AFRICOM and risk to personnel on the ground. The Obama administration last month authorized up to 3,000 U.S. troops to W. Africa to set up treatment and training centers and laboratories for Ebola diagnostics. There are currently 547 U.S. troops there, primarily in Liberia, according to the Pentagon.