The U.S. military is forming a 30-person “quick strike team” equipped to provide direct treatment to Ebola patients inside the United States, a Defense Department official told CNN’s Barbara Starr on Sunday.
A Pentagon spokesman later confirmed portions of the official’s information.
The team will be under orders to deploy within 72 hours at any time over the next month, the official said.
The Department of Health and Human Services requested the military team, and the Pentagon has given verbal approval, the official said.
The team will include five doctors, 20 nurses and five trainers, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement.
The Pentagon has been working to determine what assistance it could offer the civilian health care sector following a White House meeting last week during which President Barack Obama said he wanted a more aggressive response, according to two Defense officials.
“In response to a request by the Department of Health and Human Services — and as an added prudent measure to ensure our nation is ready to respond quickly, effectively, and safely in the event of additional Ebola cases in the United States — (Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel) today 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,” Kirby said.
Jacoby is already working with the military to source and form the joint team, Kirby said, and once formed, it will head to Fort Sam Houston in Texas for up to seven days of training in infection control and personal protective equipment. The training, provided by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, will begin “within the next week or so,” Kirby said.
The team will remain in “prepare-to-deploy” status for 30 days, he said. It will be able to respond anywhere in the U.S. if “deemed prudent by our public health professionals,” he said.
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