US Northern Command prepares expeditionary Ebola support team

20 October 2014 (Last Updated October 20th, 2014 18:30)

The US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the Northern Command to prepare and train an expeditionary medical support team to quickly and safely respond in the event of additional Ebola cases in the US.

Ebola virus

The US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the Northern Command to prepare and train an expeditionary medical support team to quickly and safely respond in the event of additional Ebola cases in the US.

Comprising 30 Northern Command personnel, the team will provide short-notice assistance to civilian medical professionals, if required.

Pentagon press secretary rear admiral John Kirby said in a statement that the Northern Command commander general Chuck Jacoby is currently working with military services to source and form the joint team.

"It will consist of 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 specialised training in infection control and personal protective equipment.

"That training is expected to start within the next week or so and will be provided by the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases."

"Team members will be sent to Fort Sam Houston in Texas for up to seven days of specialised training in infection control and personal protective equipment."

Following completion of training, the team is expected to remain in a 'prepare to deploy' status for one month, available to be sent to other continental US (CONUS) locations as required.

However, the team will not be deployed to West Africa or elsewhere overseas and will be called upon domestically only if deemed prudent by US public health professionals, according to Kirby.

Earlier, the US President Barack Obama released an executive order that authorised Hagel to order the Selected Reserve and certain members of the Individual Ready Reserve to deploy to West Africa.

Nearly 4,000 US soldiers are headed to the area, most of them to Liberia, to support international efforts to stop the virus, which has so far killed nearly 4,500 people.


Image: A scanning electron micrograph of an Ebola virus budding from the surface of a Vero cell from the African green monkey kidney epithelial cell line. Photo: courtesy of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

Defence Technology