Local, state and national agencies are taking part in a full scale drill at Nebraska Medicine in Omaha over four days to test and evaluate the ability to provide medical transport for multiple patient with Ebola or another highly infectious disease. Dr. John Lowe is the Director for Research at the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit and says they are experienced at treating one patient but this exercise involves three.
Dr. Lowe says, “Back when we took Ebola patients during 2014, there were about 27 patients moved throughout the world and we were limited to move one person at a time. That created a bottleneck. What this drill is focused on testing a new capability to move multiple people at a time. So, we’re focused in this drill moving three patients with the Ebola virus to the biocontainment unit at one time.”
A 747 specially equipped plane from West Africa will arrive at Eppley Airfield at 4:00 p.m. on Friday. All three “patients” will be on that flight and will be transported to Nebraska Medicine by ambulance provided by the Omaha and Bellevue Fire Departments. From there, hospital staff will care for the patients in a real-life setting. Health officials say this provides training for all local agencies and the hospital to work together in the event of a real-world experience.
The drill involves the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Phoenix Air Group, The National Strategic Research Institute, Nebraska Biocontainment Unit., Douglas County 911, Douglas County Emergency Management, Nebraska State Patrol, Omaha Police Department, Omaha Fire Department, Bellevue Fire Department, Omaha Airport Authority, Douglas County Health Department and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.