Dr. Donna Haiduven joins CDC’s Ebola training team

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As part of the Centers for Disease Control’s response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the CDC has organized an instruction team to train health care workers before they deploy.  Dr. Donna Haiduven, associate professor in the Department of Global Health, USF College of Public Health, has joined the team.

The hands-on training that Haiduven and colleagues provide requires a building large enough to simulate an Ebola treatment center, she said, and another big enough to house the instructors.  Lacking the space at its Atlanta headquarters, the CDC holds the training sessions at the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA’s Region IV headquarters in Anniston, Ala.

Instructors fly to Atlanta, then travel via rental car to Alabama for the four-day sessions.

“The students in the class are either deploying in the very near future or are trying to get scheduled to deploy,” Haiduven explained.  “It’s a three-day course for the people going to Africa and a one-day course for new trainers.”

The sessions began in early October and are scheduled through next April 30.  Haiduven has participated in four of the sessions, three in consecutive weeks, a week off over Thanksgiving week, then a final session the first week of December.  She plans to participate in several more in early 2015.

As part of the Centers for Disease Control’s response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the CDC has organized an instruction team to train health care workers before they deploy.  Dr. Donna Haiduven, associate professor in the Department of Global Health, USF College of Public Health, has joined the team.

The hands-on training that Haiduven and colleagues provide requires a building large enough to simulate an Ebola treatment center, she said, and another big enough to house the instructors.  Lacking the space at its Atlanta headquarters, the CDC holds the training sessions at the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA’s Region IV headquarters in Anniston, Ala.

Instructors fly to Atlanta, then travel via rental car to Alabama for the four-day sessions.

“The students in the class are either deploying in the very near future or are trying to get scheduled to deploy,” Haiduven explained.  “It’s a three-day course for the people going to Africa and a one-day course for new trainers.”

The sessions began in early October and are scheduled through next April 30.  Haiduven has participated in four of the sessions, three in consecutive weeks, a week off over Thanksgiving week, then a final session the first week of December.  She plans to participate in several more in early 2015.

Donna Haiduven checking ebola related PPE

Dr. Donna Haiduven (right) checks a trainee’s protective gear.  In photos below, she directs students in the proper procedures of safely moving a patient.

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haiduven_moving patients

An infection preventionist by training, Haiduven responded to a call for trainers that went out through professional organizations including the Red Cross, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, of which she is a member.

Potential instructors submit applications to the CDC, which then evaluates them and chooses the trainers, Haiduven said.

The training is all about health care worker safety, she said.  Manikins serve as patients, and workers learn how to safely perform procedures they otherwise already know in the simulated Ebola treatment unit.

“We don’t teach them how to draw blood.  They know how to do that,” Haiduven said.  “We teach them to safely perform their various tasks in an ETU setting, such as doing a blood draw safely, cleaning up a spill of blood and bodily fluids safely, transferring a body into a body bag safely, transferring patients from outside to inside safely, and learning how to triage patients safely, whether to bring them into the unit or send them away from the unit.”

Sessions are long and tiring, she said.

“We’re in there for nine hours.  We get a lunch break, but those of us assigned to the ETU pretty much stand for seven hours.  We have a script, and we’re all expected to keep to that script so that the students get a consistent message.  We want every student to be taught the exact same thing, and the goal is safety for them when they go to West Africa.”

Trainers and students even conduct debriefings after sessions, discussing what went right, what went wrong, and what could be done better.

“It’s rewarding, it’s exhausting, and it’s challenging,” Haiduven said.  “It also is challenging to keep up with work and do this class, but I’m willing to make the sacrifice, because I really want to do this.  It’s really important.”

During one session, she said, it was 18°F, and the zipper on her coat broke.  There are photos of her wearing the coat held together with duct tape wrapped all the way around.  But as taxing as the experience is on the trainers, Haiduven knows the trainees will bear the brunt of the situation in real life.

“No matter how cold or hot or uncomfortable we are standing there,” she said, “they’re going to have it a lot worse.”

Story by David Brothers, College of Public Health.  Photos courtesy of Dr. Donna Haiduven.

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