A doctor briefs his team during a training exercise [Picture: Graham Harrison, Crown copyright]
Armed Forces Minister Mark Francois has praised military personnel going through medical training to help tackle Ebola in west Africa.
More than 100 members of the British Army’s 22 Field Hospital are preparing to provide a 12-bed treatment unit for healthcare workers in Sierra Leone.
Today, Mr Francois witnessed mission training at the Army Medical Services establishment in Strensall, which is designed to develop and assess the clinical and organisational procedures required.
Personnel carried out parts of the exercise in personal protective equipment in a hangar converted into a mock-up field hospital, treating simulated casualties to replicate the situation they expect to find when they deploy.
Mr Francois said:
The Ebola virus represents a global threat to public health and we will not stand idly by. The UK has been at the forefront of responding to the epidemic and our medics will continue the great work already carried out by the military engineers, planners, DFID and FCO representatives and NGOs.
This operation will involve a unique set of challenges, but I believe that our military medics, who we are extremely proud of, have the ability to provide support to the World Health Organisation in helping to bring the outbreak under control.
Military personnel will deploy to Sierra Leone next week where they will join military engineers and planners who have been in country for almost a month, overseeing the construction of the medical facilities.
Commander 2 Medical Brigade, Brigadier Kevin Beaton, said:
We have created a detailed mock-up of the environment we will be operating in once deployed, enabling our personnel to get used to the procedures they will have to undergo and their personal protective equipment, working in challenging conditions.
We believe this is a mission worth doing, and a risk worth taking to protect our people as we tackle Ebola.
The 12-bed facility is just one strand of the UK’s commitment to tackling Ebola. Using British expertise and local building contractors, the UK has pledged to establish the physical infrastructure for a total of 700 beds.
A team of over 40 military personnel, including logisticians, planners and engineers, are currently on the ground in Sierra Leone to oversee the construction of the UK’s facility near Freetown and develop sites for new facilities.
The UK will build at least 4 new Ebola treatment facilities near urban centres including Port Loko, Freetown, Makeni and Bo.