Nebraska Medicine trains for multiple Ebola patients at once

Posted at 10:35 PM, Nov 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-18 23:35:48-05

Two years ago, Nebraska Medicine was on the front lines of fighting Ebola. Three patients came here and two survived the deadly virus.

In order to prepare for future patients, the hospital held a drill with local emergency responders.

A boeing 747 landed at Epply Airfield carrying three mock patients, they were from Liberia and had the Ebola virus.

The situation was a huge test for Nebraska Medicine and local emergency responders to react to multiple patients coming at once.

“It was really about making sure you are ready for anything,” said Shelly Schwedhelm, Nebraska Medicine Executive Director of Infection Prevention of Emergency Preparedness. 

“We moved three patients at one time which is significant effort and it went very well,” said John Lowe, Director of Research of the Biocontainment Unit.

Nebraska Medicine officials said in 2014 they took patients one at a time, so being able to take more than one will help, but they needed to know if they could handle the extra patients.

“It is always about fine-tuning, there are always some nuances, or there are new people you want to acclimate,” said Schewdhelm. 

After the patients were taken off the plane, Omaha, Bellevue, and Papillion Fire each transported them to Nebraska Med.

One of the improvements officials said they thought they could work on was getting the patients to the hospital quicker, and not waiting as a group.

The hospital said they take pride in the collaboration between all of the agencies and communication between them.

“That involves very rapid communication between the health department, fire, the airport and med unit, and that went expectantly well,” said Lowe.

The patients in the drill went home right after it ended. Nebraska Medicine said that in the future they may train for more patients at once.