Italy stages Ebola evacuation drills – nurses union says US not ready for cases, an outbreak would be ‘pure pandemonium’

Thursday, September 25, 2014
By Paul Martin
September 25, 2014

PRATICA DI MARE AIR BASE, Italy (AP) — The patient, a slight woman in her 30s, lay motionless on the stretcher as a half-dozen men in biohazard suits transferred her from a C-27J cargo plane into an ambulance and then into a mobile hospital isolation ward, never once breaking the plastic seal encasing her. The exercise put on Wednesday was just a simulation of the procedures that would be used to evacuate an Ebola patient to Italy. But for Italian military, Red Cross and health care workers, it offered essential experience, especially for those on the front lines of the country’s sea-rescue operation involving thousands of African migrants who arrive here every day in smugglers’ boats. Italian authorities and medical experts insist that the risk of Ebola spreading from Africa to Europe is small, given that the virus only spreads by direct contact with infected blood or other bodily fluids. They say Italy’s first case of Ebola will probably be an Italian doctor or missionary who contracts the disease while caring for patients in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea — the three hardest-hit countries — and is airlifted home for treatment.

Yet concern runs high: EU health ministers who met this week in Milan spent an entire session discussing Ebola and the EU. They concluded that, while the risk of the disease coming to Europe is low, the EU must improve coordination and prevention measures to better diagnose, transport and treat suspected cases. “There is an emergency,” said Dr. Natale Ceccarelli, who heads the infirmary at the Pratica di Mare air force base south of Rome, where the training course was staged. “If one person is infected, he infects everyone.” –News OK

U.S. not ready for an Ebola outbreak: Dire warnings came in Wednesday about the deadly Ebola virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the worst-case scenario would be up to 1.4 million cases in Africa within the next four months. Meantime, nursing unions used Las Vegas to get their message out to the country that American hospitals would not be ready for an Ebola outbreak. With high drama and theatrics on the Strip, they staged what they called a ‘die in’ part of their medical march with a message. They started at the Planet Nurse convention at Planet Hollywood, demanding U.S. hospitals be prepared for the Ebola virus. “Which we know is not just a matter of ‘if’, it is ‘when,’” Bonnie Castillo with the Registered Nurse Response Network said. Within minutes, more than 1,000 unionized nurses, some wearing mock hazardous material suits, made their way outside to pound the pavement; saying hospitals aren’t ready for Ebola. “I think it’s very, very scary.

I think we need to be more aware, educated,” ICU nurse Valerie Loza said. Loza is a local ICU nurse. She worries Las Vegas is vulnerable to the virus. “We’re a transient city. Many people come from different states, many countries. It’s absolutely horrifying what can happen,” Loza said. The demonstration was designed to show danger and death from the Ebola threat. It was loud, except for a moment of silence for health workers who died after contracting Ebola. “I’m not worried about this epidemic making it to the United States.” Dr. Iser had meetings with hospitals and emergency medical services providers on Ebola preparedness this month. “They are feeling fairly comfortable they can manage a case of Ebola,” Dr. Iser said. But for the nurses unions, they’re convinced pure pandemonium could come in real life, if the U.S. saw an Ebola emergency. – 8 News Now

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