Pelham Fire Department Undergoes Ebola PreparednessNovember 14, 2014
submitted by Robert Horne, Pelham Fire Department
Members of the Pelham Fire Department have recently been training for Ebola preparedness. PFD has kept up to date on all recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, NH Bureau of EMS, and NH Department of Health and Human Services. Chief Midgley and the EMS coordinator have taken part in all the scheduled conference calls via the NHDHHS, conferred with the Southeastern NH Hazardous Materials Mutual Aid District, the Pelham Police Department, and all local receiving hospitals. PFD is incorporating both classroom and hands-on learning in order to properly prepare for the unlikely event of an outbreak.
Department members have learned to recognize the signs and symptoms of Ebola, how to properly screen callers and patients, how to properly handle a suspected patient, and how to handle an incident of this magnitude. PFD has put in place an Ebola Response Guide for use by members responding to a suspected patient. Most importantly, firefighters have been trained how to properly put on and remove CDC recommended Personal Protective Equipment. It is believed that healthcare workers, who have become infected with Ebola, have contracted it by improperly removing their PPE or not wearing it correctly.
Over 10,000 people in West Africa have been infected and around 50 percent of them have died during this outbreak, the largest outbreak ever recorded since Ebola was first discovered in 1976. Ebola is spread through direct contact with blood or secretions of someone who is ill and exhibiting symptoms, or by exposure to objects such as needles that have been infected with contaminated secretions. It is not spread through the air or by food or water but can be spread via particulates such as a cough or sneeze. The symptoms of Ebola typically include fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite, and stomach pain. Later stages may include bleeding inside and outside of the body.
It is important to remember that if you or someone you know has any of these symptoms you do not necessarily have Ebola. If you have not traveled to West Africa or had contact with someone who has within the last 21 days, then your symptoms are almost certainly related to something else such as the flu. Although the risk of a widespread epidemic in the United States is unlikely, it is important to note that the CDC, TSA, Homeland Security, local hospitals and first responders are taking Ebola very seriously and are prepared to deal with any suspected or confirmed cases.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact the Pelham Fire Department at 635-2703.