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NCDHHS Staff Participate in Multi-State Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak Preparedness Exercise

Office of Emergency Medical Services team members support emergency response operations during the Ebola Outbreak Preparedness Exercise on Nov. 7, 2019. Credit: Kelly Haight Connor

Office of Emergency Medical Services team members support emergency response operations during the Ebola Outbreak Preparedness Exercise on Nov. 7, 2019. Credit: Kelly Haight Connor

Officials from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the NC Department of Public Safety participated with federal, state and local partners in a multi-state Ebola virus disease emergency preparedness exercise Nov. 4–8, 2019. 

Coordinated by DHHS’s Health Care Preparedness Program in the Division of Health Service Regulation, the exercise focused on the movement of patients between hospitals when Ebola is a suspected or confirmed diagnosis. 

DHHS staff from the Division of Public Health, Division of Health Services Regulation, Office of Emergency Medical Services and Office of Communications participated in the five-day drill, with many staff stationed at the NC Emergency Operations Center throughout the exercise.

The drill also involved local hospitals and health care agencies across the state in a simulation of how public health, first responders and health care providers would respond if someone in North Carolina were to be diagnosed with Ebola virus disease. 

This was the first state-wide, full-scale Ebola exercise in North Carolina. The drill allowed staff to test their public health and emergency medical services responses to a mock Ebola outbreak and to evaluate where processes worked well and where improvements are needed.

Other participants in the exercise included part of the Region IV (Southeast) states which include Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, as well as the Regional Ebola Treatment Center in Atlanta and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness & Response Region IV, Regional Emergency Coordinators.

Following the 2014–2016 Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa, federal agencies provided special funding to ensure the U.S. health care system is ready to safely and successfully identify, manage and treat patients with Ebola or patients under investigation for Ebola. North Carolina has used these funds to collaboratively plan, train, equip and test the health care system and local public health partners on Ebola preparedness and response activities.

Author: 
Kelly Haight Connor