The Good news: The Department of Defense posted an official “response” to Ebola and how it ties into the Military Health System for all service members about to be deployed to Africa.
The Bad News: Pretty much everything else.
In an article posted on the official health.mil site the DoD starts off by saying there’s no plan “for U.S. military personnel to provide direct patient care”, but in the very next sentence they say “in the event there is a requirement for U.S. military personnel to work in areas where there is a risk of contracting Ebola, U.S. military personnel will follow the protection guidelines issued by the CDC, and will be issued appropriate personal protective equipment.”
So if there’s no plan, why is there a set of personal protective equipment at the ready?
The last two Q and A sections in the FAQ are what is going to give the media ulcers. BOLD sections are my prediction on next week’s talking points…
Q: Will service members be screened and quarantined if symtpmatic (sic)
A: Once deployed, all personnel will be evaluated by their unit twice each day for temperature and their exposure to risks. We will have a tiered model for risks based on both symptoms and / or risk exposures. Anyone who is identified as having symptoms will be quickly evaluated by medical personnel. Medical authorities will make the decision based on a structured set of criteria as to whether the service member can return to duty or should be medically evacuated back to the U.S. Personnel, if determined to have an exposure that represents more than a minimal risk, will be evacuated back to the United States for observation and treatment if required. If someone at risk is moved back to the U.S., they will be quarantined for 21 days at a DoD designated facility to monitor for signs and symptoms of the disease.
A: Once individuals are back in the US after their deployment, monitoring will continue for 21 days. There will be face-to-face interviews, twice a day, to review for symptoms and perform a temperature check. Anyone who is not showing any symptoms will be allowed to return to work, and resume daily activities with their families. Individuals will not be authorized leave or temporary duty outside of their local area during these 21 days so we can assure continued face to face monitoring.
So even after returning home, the DoD isn’t taking any chances with infections under their 21-day rule. The question is what the “local area” will be defined as.
I also think the “fly home for treatment if you’re infected” part is what’s really going to upset a lot of people, especially if there’s a DoD Ebola-Guantanamo thing prepped. Yes, the US is the best place for Ebola treatment, but if this disease spreads into the hundreds, you can bet your paycheck there’s going to be LOUD calls for an end to all flights to the US.