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Ebola: how NHS hospitals are preparing for an outbreak

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  • Ebola: how NHS hospitals are preparing for an outbreak

    Comment: I hope that the photo that goes with this article is not an accurate representation of UK PPE (looks much like the original US protocol)

    Hillingdon hospital is the nearest acute healthcare provider to Heathrow airport and could be on the frontline of treating Ebola.

    A twelve-hour flight is all that separates us from the virus and, while an outbreak is unlikely, would you take the risk of being unprepared as a nurse?

    The answer came on a Saturday morning when I took part in a training exercise jointly organised by Public Health England and Department of Health.


    The Royal Free come back and ask us to take a blood sample which is then put in a secure metal container and couriered to Porton Down military science park in Wiltshire for testing.

    The ?test? comes back positive and he is taken to the Royal Free hospital by the hazardous area response team (HART), highly trained paramedics and ambulance technicians within the London Ambulance Service, for treatment. We stand down after nearly two hours and begin the potentially dangerous task of getting out of our suits.

    It?s almost impossible to avoid skin contact with the outside of the suit. It?s important to receive appropriate training as this has been acknowledged as a likely cause of transmission in America.

    The key findings of the day include:
    ? Designated staff on each shift are to handle Ebola cases
    ? Staff work in 30-minute shifts to combat hot working conditions
    ? Adequate training for safely putting on/taking off protective suits
    ? Spray down suits with disinfectant as added precaution

    ? Isolation room with video/audio link to minimise physical contact
    ? Clear practical key cards instructing staff in event of a live case