Pa. responders to conduct Ebola isolation drill

The drill is the first of kind for area responders, featuring a staged scenario and specialized equipment


By Travis Kellar
The Times-Leader 

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — The city’s Health and Fire/EMS Departments, in collaboration with Commonwealth Health System’s Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, Luzerne County 911, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, will conduct an “isolation drill” today as an exercise in preparedness in handling patients with potentially life threatening illnesses, such as the EBOLA virus.

The drill is expected to last about one and a half hours and will begin at the Coal Street Park at 9:00 a.m. and conclude at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.

This is the first drill of its kind in the Commonwealth and will utilize specialized tactics and equipment in the event of an illness emergency. For the first time, the city’s Fire/EMS and Health Departments will work with community health partners in a staged scenario involving a patient with symptoms of a threatening illness.

“The City of Wilkes-Barre’s Fire/EMS and Health Departments have taken a crucial first step to proactively address EBOLA training for first responders,” said Mayor Thomas M. Leighton. “They have enlisted a tremendous amount of positive effort to coordinate this training drill with the assistance of Wilkes-Barre General Hospital and emergency management agencies in order to set a precedent for preparedness in our region.”

The city’s Fire/EMS and Health Departments have taken the lead in this matter to reassure residents, business owners and their employees, and visitors that the City of Wilkes-Barre is prepared for an illness event. On a daily basis, officials in both city departments monitor the most up-to-date EBOLA guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control.

Residents are advised that the drill is strictly an exercise in preparedness and that an actual emergency is not occurring. There have been no local cases of any reported illness or persons linked to the EBOLA virus.

A media staging area will be available in both locations, however no members of the media will be permitted in the active drill area. Officials from the city’s Fire/EMS and Health Department, as well as representatives from Wilkes-Barre General Hospital will conduct a debriefing and response to media questions once the drill is complete.

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©2014 The Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

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