U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the creation of a 30-person, rapid-response medical support team for the Ebola crisis, Reuters reported Sunday. The Pentagon released a statement Sunday saying the team would assist civilian health care workers if the number of people diagnosed with virus in the United States rises.
The Department of Health and Human Services requested the medical support team “as an added prudent measure to ensure our nation is ready to respond quickly, effectively and safely in the event of additional Ebola cases,” the statement from Rear Adm. John Kirby read.
The team will have 20 critical care nurses, five doctors trained in infectious disease and five trainers in infectious disease protocols, the statement said. Training, which will be provided by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, will most likely begin in the next week.
The team will not travel overseas or to West Africa and will only be deployed domestically if health officials deem it necessary. “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,” the statement said.
So far, three people have been diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., two who contracted the viral disease on U.S. soil. The potential spread of the virus has ignited national concern.
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