COLLEGE STATION – The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) is augmenting its national training for healthcare personnel on infectious diseases to include the latest information on the coronavirus, which has spread from Wuhan, China, to the United States. According to news reports, over 300 people have died in China and more than 17,000 have been infected since the new strain of coronavirus, dubbed 2019-nCoV, was identified in December 2019.
TEEX offers training to U.S. medical and first responder communities on identifying diseases or pathogens and managing patient care, while protecting themselves from exposure and contamination through proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Since the Ebola outbreak in 2014, TEEX has trained almost 11,000 healthcare workers to properly use Level C Personal Protective Equipment, in accordance with OSHA and CDC standards, and to identify diseases or exposure following a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive (CBRNE) incident. In the last five years, TEEX has also provided training nationwide to over 8,000 medical personnel and first responders in “Medical Countermeasures” to a large-scale public health incident, such as a highly contagious disease or pandemic requiring mass prophylaxis. Instructors in the Medical Countermeasures course stress the importance of educating the public on disease spread, measures to protect family members from disease and how to receive prophylactic medications if needed.
In the TEEX course “Medical Management of CBRNE Events,” adult and pediatric human patient simulators are used as training aids and can simulate various effects of exposure to disease and toxins, as well as chemical agents and radiological or nuclear materials, said Kathy Wall, Training Coordinator at TEEX’s Emergency Services Training Institute.
“No other organization does mobile training nationwide with human patient simulators to prepare people for handling such incidents or biological threats,” she said. The human patient simulators are shipped to locations across the nation for instructor-facilitated, hands-on practice.
“For the coronavirus, patient management will be similar to other highly infectious pathogens,” said TEEX instructor Ryan LeNorman, “but the key will be recognizing the signs and symptoms of a highly contagious illness and containing the virus. The incubation period for all known types of coronavirus can be up to 14 days. It presents with flu-like symptoms, so patient history will be very important.”
These training programs are offered nationwide at no charge through TEEX’s National Emergency Response and Recovery Training Center under the DHS/FEMA Homeland Security National Training Program Cooperative Agreement. Target audiences include healthcare personnel, emergency responders, workers at Ports of Entry and any personnel who might come into contact with a dangerous biological agent.
To learn more about the coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To learn more about TEEX training for healthcare personnel, visit www.teex.org/nerrtc and click on “EMS/Public Health Emergency Preparedness.”