Plus: “The rest of the article is worth your time. Five of the 58 medical professionals involved in the Science Magazine study died of Ebola before the paper was published. . . . Nine Doctors Without Borders physicians, all equipped with the best of isolation and prophylactic gear, have died of Ebola. Of the physicians and nurses who have died of Ebola in this epidemic, most (more than 60%) had what was considered more than adequate protective gear and were instructed in its use. The US Military being sent into the plague zone have had four hours of instruction.”
Fifteen years ago, I’d have felt fairly comfortable with a four hour block of instruction.
First, usually monthly, but at least quarterly, I would undergo actual hands on training in donning personal protective equipment (PPE). More importantly, I’d also undergo hands on training in removing contaminated PPE, and decontamination procedures. To be sure, the contaminant in question was usually mustard gas or nerve agent, both of which can be treated. But the key was, don’t get contaminated doffing your gear.
But the past decade has seen the Army emphasis on training in nuclear, biological and chemical warfare environments wither. Not because the Army doesn’t see the need, but rather relatively low chance of needed to operate in NBC compared to the huge numbers of tasks that absolutely troops will be required to perform in a combat deployment. That means that both the average individual skill level and the institutional knowledge in avoiding contamination has faded.
Another key aspect of any successful training program is repetition. You don’t train until you get it right. You train until you can’t get it wrong. How many times will troops deploying to Liberia actually practice the techniques they need to master?
God bless them and keep them.