CDC's Anniston Training

From September 22–24, 2014, CDC coordinated the first of several 3-day experiential courses for U.S. healthcare workers headed to West Africa. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama, hosted Preparing Healthcare Workers to Work in ETUs in Africa. The CDC syllabus built upon information from courses already developed by MSF and WHO. CDC staff and clinicians from other agencies with on-the-ground experience taught the training, which covered critical areas of infection control, ETU patient flow, and the delivery of care in the safest possible manner.

ETU Training in Anniston

Preparing Healthcare Workers to Work in ETUs in Africa training, Anniston, AL, November, 2014. Photograph by Jim Gathany, CDC

Donning and Doffing the PPE: The “Buddy System”

The Anniston training was hands-on, including the experience of donning and doffing (putting on and taking off) PPE (personal protective equipment). To practice what to do and how to do it safely, participants performed patient care activities while wearing PPE. Training also focused on repeated practice using the buddy system: health care workers walked each other through each step of the donning and doffing process. The buddy system ensured that the procedure was done properly, and that the gear covered every part of the body from head to toe, helping to prevent the chance of inadvertent exposure to body fluids.

Meticulously donning and doffing the PPE was a sobering experience. In the field, PPE worn by health care workers almost certainly had fluids on it from infected patients. PPE removal is considered an extremely high-risk activity. Each protective item needs to be shed in order, following very specific procedures. A hot, tired clinician who just finished working a shift in an intense environment still needs to remove the PPE methodically and carefully. This part of the Anniston training provided a taste of the challenges and risks health care workers faced in the field, which gave trainees a huge appreciation for the seriousness of this type of preparation.

Bornemann, Jennifer

Commander Jennifer Bornemann

Commander Jennifer Bornemann, a behavioral health officer in the Monrovia Medical Unit, talks about training in Anniston, Alabama. (Transcript)

Anniston Training Objects Anniston Training Guide

Anniston training materials installed in EBOLA: People + Public Health + Political Will. Each participant received a copy of the CDC Preparing Healthcare Workers to Work in ETUs in Africa Toolkit. The Anniston curriculum included modules on how to use chlorine sprayers to disinfect ETUs, and the proper disposal of infectious wastes, as well as how to safely collect, package, and transport Ebola specimens using a biohazard kit. Trainers used a Glo-Germ Kit to teach about infection prevention disinfectant techniques. Participants also practiced donning and doffing PPE.