Elmhurst Hospital staff gets Ebola training

ELMHURST, Ill. (WLS) -- A suburban hospital drilled its staff to make sure they are properly trained if a case of Ebola is diagnosed in the Chicago area.

Doctors, nurses and first responders took part in a special training exercise at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital.

It may not have looked like it, but it was only a drill.

As the staff at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital, firefighters and paramedics in the western suburb, along with ambulance drivers, prepare for the possibility of Ebola patients.

They are training, although there have been only three confirmed cases in the United States and none reported so far in Illinois.

"If you look back at the Dallas episode with the Ebola breakout, there's many components to the taking care of the patient," said Dr. Daniel Sullivan, Elmhurst Memorial Hospital Chief Medical Officer.

Friday's simulation involves how to treat a local college student who after spending time with her missionary parents in West Africa is now showing symptoms of Ebola and calls 911.

And because the highly contagious disease is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, Elmhurst paramedics Chad Carlson and Annette Cioch learn the meticulous process of suiting up in protective gear in order to transport the patient safely.

Meanwhile, hospital staff quickly prepare for the arrival.

"They're taping it off because this will be where they'll take off all of their equipment," said Assistant Head ER Nurse Deidre Lumpkin.

Nurses dressed in their own protective gear, receive the Ebola patient in a secure area, as first responders, submit to a decontamination process called "doffing".

The ambulances used will be disinfected, too.

"There's always concerns being a paramedic in what you're getting into," Cioch said.

Once stabilized, it's off to Rush Medical Center in Chicago, the main hospital in the area slated to care for Ebola patients.

There are a few glitches along the way, a door that wouldn't open and trouble keeping an entrance air locked, all topics of an afternoon debrief in an effort to be prepared.

"If we do have an incident an hour from now, we're better prepared than we were this morning," said Battalion Chief Tim Lisowski, Elmhurst Fire Department.

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