CHATHAM, NJ - The chances of an encounter with an Ebola-infected patient is still a "very, very remote possibility," but members of Chatham's emergency services said that they will be ready to handle such a case, it was reported at Monday night's Borough of Chatham Council meeting.
"With all the stuff about Ebola in the news, I don't want people to get too alarmed, but I thought it would be useful to have our emergency services talk about preparedness that has been put in place," Chatham Borough Mayor Bruce Harris said. "We are prepared and I thought it would be good for our residents to hear what is being put in place."
Steve Davenport of the Chatham Emergency Squad; Steve Williams, deputy emergency management coordinator, and Lisa Gulla, health officer for Chatham and Madison, all addressed the council on protocols being updated and put in place.
"We in Chatham are extremely fortunate to have the dedicated members of the Chatham Emergency Squad taking the leadership role, developing new squad policies and procedures to address and handle infectious disease-type emergencies," Williams said.
"In addition to the work the Chatham Emergency Squad has undertaken, the Morris County Office of Emergency Management has announced the implementation of a Morris County Infectious Disease Response Team, which was announced (Sunday) afternoon. The team will be operational on Friday, Oct. 31st. This team will supplement our own EMS, should the need arise."
Davenport reported that the Chatham Emergency Squad is calling in all of its personnel, starting Thursday for training on handling infectious diseases, including Ebola.
"Long story short, we feel quite well prepared in terms of development of revised procedures and the gathering of equipment," Davenport said. "We will begin training the squad in earnest this Thursday (Oct. 30). We are calling in the entire membership for mandatory training to be completed in 13 days. They will be taught how to take on and take off personal protective equipment.
"Even though we know and believe that encountering a patient that we suspect to be EBD infected to be a very, very remote possibility, we're treating it as though it could happen tomorrow."
Alex Chorny, the Chatham Emergency Squad Captain, said that 40 to 45 emergency squad members will receive trainiing, and that Chatham is obtaining protective suits to protect personnel from Ebola-like symptoms.
"We are obtaining full body suits," Chorny said. "We're wearing three pairs of gloves. We have more than enough to attire anyone who responds to an infectious case."
Steve Davenport explains the Chatham Emergency Squad preparedness for a case of Ebola in video below
Steve Williams, deputy emergency management coordinator, speaks about protocol for dealing with Ebola