WASHINGTON - In response to a request by the Department of Health and Human Services -- and as an added prudent measure to ensure the nation is ready to respond quickly, effectively, and safely in the event of additional Ebola cases in the United States -- Secretary Hagel recently 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.
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. It 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 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.
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 wildland firefighting.
Secretary Hagel is committed to ensuring DoD is prepared to provide appropriate capabilities, as required, to support our government's response to this deadly disease. He is extraordinarily proud of the skill and professionalism of our servicemen and women and of the unique capabilities they bring to this important effort. As always, their safety and security will remain foremost on his mind.