(Written on Monday, but not sent, as I got hit by a wave of jet lag):
We did our first day of training today. I didn’t bring a camera, so no photos, but I surely will tomorrow.
Our small group of 6 joined several larger groups of trainees, for a total of about 50 people, most from Sierra Leone, and others from the US, South Africa, Zambia, and Uganda. The training is sponsored by IOM, which I learned is the International Organization of Migration, which has been brought in by WHO to offer training. Many of the trainers are from Uganda, which has experienced 6 outbreaks of Ebola in the past 40 years, and therefore has the experience in treating and responding to this dreaded disease.
Here’s a video from the IOM website which shows the training center we are at, and many of the same trainers are in the video:
It certainly brought to mind the news stories that I remember hearing of these outbreaks, and the brave medical providers, mostly from Médecins Sans Frontières, who went into these situations, without the benefit of the infection control practices and personal protective equipment that is now the standard. It was interesting to observe the changes that have occurred in what practices are considered the safest way to protect oneself. In fact, it is clear from talking with the trainers and the participants in the program here, that many changes and enhancements to the safety measures have been implemented in the last few months, as more experience and understanding of how to control this outbreak are gathered.
(and, here I broke off, so, a little update from Tuesday):
Well, despite my hopes, I forgot my camera. Rats!
Yesterday’s training concluded with instruction and practice putting on and taking off the PPE – Personal Protective Equipment. I had actually done this training once in Baltimore, but it sure felt more real in this setting, knowing that I will be wearing this extremely hot and constricting equipment and trying to give care to patients in a week’s time. We had a lecture on heat illness and heat shock, and one of the participants related to the group his experience becoming faint and dizzy in the gear, and needing to leave the treatment area for rest and hydration. Interestingly, he had earlier in the morning offered the observation that to work and function in the PPE, you have to make up your mind that you can do it, and then you will be able to.
Mind over matter! I’m sure that I’ll keep his words and thoughts in mind.
At the end of the day, the staff took us to a very nice hotel for drinks and some of us went for a swim. We all thought of our family members suffering with snow at home, while we enjoyed the tropical weather.