South MS first responders learn how to deal with possible Ebola threat

First responders train for ebola
Representatives were present from Coast fire and police departments, including Harrison County, D'Iberville, Gulfport, Biloxi and others. (Photo source: WLOX)
Representatives were present from Coast fire and police departments, including Harrison County, D'Iberville, Gulfport, Biloxi and others. (Photo source: WLOX)
A big message of the day is that the risk of the disease spreading is low, but it's important to be prepared. (Photo source: WLOX)
A big message of the day is that the risk of the disease spreading is low, but it's important to be prepared. (Photo source: WLOX)

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Emergency responders are taking extra precautions in case the Ebola virus ever makes it to South Mississippi. Personnel from all across the Coast met Wednesday in Gulfport to ensure their readiness.

For the most part, the information wasn't new to the emergency officials filling the seats in the Lyman Community Center, but the application was something that the first responders have never dealt with.

"It's just a new virus. You know, people hear the word Ebola, and it scares them," said American Medical Response Operations Manager, Gregory Doyle.

He gave a presentation that highlighted specific procedures that need to be followed if the Ebola virus were to ever travel our way.

"This is the time to be calm, be professional, be thoughtful," said Doyle.

The CDC's newest regulations include several safety protocols to ensure that the disease is handled properly. According to Doyle, the Coast would be ready if it ever needed to be.

"We're well prepared for it. We have the equipment. We have the training. We have the knowledge. We have the patience and the calmness and the professionalism," said Doyle.

It was stressed to the emergency leaders in attendance that the possibility of contracting the virus is extremely rare. There are several steps that responders must follow before someone can even be suspected of a diagnosis.

"If we have a case that is found to be a person of interest, we want all of our responders to act under the same protocols," said EMA Director, Rupert Lacy.

Getting responders on the same page is something that the officials at the workshop wanted to accomplish.

"There's a lot of misinformation out there. There's a lot of fear out there," said Harrison County Fire Chief, Pat Sullivan.

According to Sullivan, workshops like this one should help diminish that fear.

"It allows us to make the proper decisions, have the proper equipment and educate our firefighters, police officers, first responders on what they need to do," said Sullivan.

The officials in charge say there's no imminent threat when it comes to the Ebola virus, but just like with any disease, they simply want to be prepared for anything.

Copyright 2014 WLOX. All rights reserved.