County prepared for Ebola
Published 4:16 pm Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Escambia County, like the state of Alabama, is ready if the Ebloa virus strikes the area.
Sheriff Grover Smith said his department, as well as the county emergency management agency, use training exercises to prepare for cases of emergency.
“A lot of people don’t realize that we do have – and do participate in – exercises for those type of things,” Smith said. “We do have exercises in the event Ebola hits in Escambia County.
“We have to be aware of the world around us,” he said.
On Monday, it was announced a Dallas nurse is infected with Ebola. That afternoon, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley toured UAB Hospital to continue the message he started last week: that Alabama hospitals are prepared to handle the Ebola virus.
“We need to be concerned, but we don’t want to overreact,” Bentley said. “Sometimes you can overreact in situations like this. These are the first two cases of Ebola in the United States…We just want to be prepared. And this hospital is prepared.”
The governor’s tour comes on the heels of an Ebola scare last Thursday that temporarily grounded a plane at Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport and news from Dallas that a nurse has become the first person in the U.S. to contract the virus. The governor’s tour of UAB Monday had been planned before those events.
The nurse who works at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas was diagnosed with Ebola following her care for patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who died Wednesday.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Thomas Frieden, said in a news conference Sunday that “there was a breach in protocol.”
“I saw that it was said to be a breach of protocol,” said Bentley, who is a doctor. “I am not sure, and I don’t think anyone is sure right now how that health care provider was infected with that virus — whether it was a breach of protocol, Obviously she had to come in contact with the virus or she would not have caught it.”
Bentley toured UAB Hospital’s Emergency Department and was shown the protective gear and an isolation room where UAB would treat an Ebola patient. The media was not invited on the tour due to patient privacy concerns.
“As a governor who has dealt with natural disasters, probably more than any governor in the United States – tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms, whatever it may be – we also want to be prepared in Alabama to take care of any medical emergency that may arise. And this is something we certainly want to be prepared for.”