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Team preparation for Ebola threat continues with personal protective
equipment training

October 24, 2014

Hendersonville, NC— Intense training in personal protective equipment (PPE) took place Thursday, October 23, and continues today as Henderson County partners learn detailed step by step instructions for how to put PPE equipment on (donning) and take it off safely (doffing). The trainings are an example of the Department of Public Health and its partners working together in preparation for the Ebola threat.

Hospitals, public health and health care providers in Henderson County participated in a PPE Train-the-Trainer course. This course was created and conducted by Mark Stepp, Mountain Area Trauma Regional Advisory Committee and Keith Rowland, Industrial Hygienist, Western Region Public Health Preparedness and Response Office. Participants were taught proper PPE selection and storage, donning and doffing PPE using the buddy system, and disposal of used PPE. Participants will return to their respective agencies and train their staff using current CDC PPE guidance.

“It was a great experience and excellent training,” said Joan Pajak, Clinical Nurse Supervisor with the Health Department. “Making sure that everyone is prepared up front, knowing that we have the right equipment and selecting our teams in advance ensures that our staff will remain safe and will prevent the spread of any communicable disease outbreak if it should arise.”

At the same time, Henderson County Emergency Management is coordinating the development of an Ebola Incident Action Plan and training for all staff who work in Law Enforcement, Emergency Medical Services, and Fire Services.

“As part of our ongoing commitment to community emergency preparedness, the Sheriff’s Office is proud to partner with members of the Henderson County Health Department and Emergency Services in establishing trained and equipped response teams of Sheriff’s Office personnel and emergency service providers for response to possible Ebola incidents that could surface in our community”, said Henderson County Sheriff Charles McDonald. “I am confident the citizens of Henderson County will be provided the safest, most efficient response available should an incident occur. We see this as an opportunity to enhance our capabilities and operational effectiveness should the need arise.”

On October 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated guidance for health care facilities regarding PPE and caring for Ebola patients. The new guidance reflects lessons learned from the recent experiences of U.S. hospitals caring for Ebola patients and emphasizes the importance of training, practice, competence and observation of health care workers in correct use of PPE.
The enhanced guidance is centered on three principles:

  • All healthcare workers undergo rigorous training and are practiced and competent with PPE, including putting it on and taking it off in a systemic manner
  • No skin exposure when PPE is worn
  • All workers are supervised by a trained monitor who watches each worker putting PPE on and taking it off. The trained monitor can spot any missteps in real-time and immediately address it.

DPH and its partners have been monitoring and preparing for Ebola since August. There are no reported cases of Ebola in Henderson County or North Carolina.

Anyone with concerns or questions about Ebola is encouraged to call the Ebola Public Information Line at 1-800-222-1222. More information is available at www.ncdhhs.gov or http://www.hendersoncountync.org/health/web_pages/ebola-virus.html. The page is updated as new information develops. The Ebola web page can be accessed also from the health department’s home page (www.hendersoncountync.org/health).

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