Joint service Soldiers participated in a weekly class to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus. The Department of Defense Ebola Treatment Training Team taught the class in support of Operation United Assistance, at the National Police Training Academy, Monrovia, Liberia, Dec. 2, 2014.
“When the Ebola virus started, there weren't enough health care workers to eradicate it,” said Maj. Retaunda Riley, an Ashmund, Georgia, native, the senior brigade physician assistance for the 36th Engineer Brigade. “With the permission of the Liberian government, we extended our support along with various agencies worldwide to help stop the virus.”
The attendees were Liberian health care workers, U.S. service members and other agencies.
“Some of the local nationals don't have jobs right now, but by completing this training and the different phases, they can work at a Ebola treatment unit,” said Riley. “There are people from all over the world supporting Liberia.”
Reports of new Ebola cases have slowed down.
“With us being here, it is helping tremendously,” said Riley. “We do believe the numbers are decreasing. The health care workers said that there aren't as many people in the ETU's.”
She said education and working together decreases the spread of Ebola.
“One of the many positive things I've realized about coming here, is that we came knowing it's a different culture, possible language barrier and different supporting groups involved in this mission,” said Riley. “That kind of set the tone and we were able to work well with each other.”
The classes are taught by experts.
“People who have affiliation with Ebola patients often help teach the class,” said Riley. “That is the unique part of the class and it differs from the training prior to us coming here.”
Riley and Capt. Gregory Holmes briefed the 36th ENG leadership on the standard operation procedures that are dictated by the World Health Organization. They also ensure the units are up to date with proper protective gear.
“My colleagues and I will make sure we take as much preventive measures so that all the Soldiers we brought here return safe to their families,” said Riley. “That is why the training is so important.”
Ongoing training is crucial.
“We teach how to prevent the spread of Ebola, but we also teach people how to care for Ebola patients,” said Armed Forces of Liberia Pfc. Martha Nebo, an instructor during the training, assigned to the administrative assistant with the chief medical office in Liberia, Ministry of National Defense.
Riley said the class supports the overall mission of Joint Forces Command – United Assistance as part of Operation United Assistance.
“I feel really good about the training,” said Nebo. “Before I was just in my own community and educating less people, and now, I get to teach people from all over. I get to tell them from experience what I've seen.”
Nebo said continued training is very important because people get complacent.
“We need to have this training all the time, even when we have zero cases of Ebola,” said Nebo. “No matter how much experience you have, you can never allow yourself to be too comfortable.”
Operation United Assistance is a Department of Defense operation in Liberia to provide logistics, training and engineering support to U.S. Agency for International Development-led efforts to contain the Ebola virus outbreak in western Africa.