Between November 2014 and October 2015, RedR UK ran pre-departure training to prepare medical staff for deployment to work in Ebola Treatment Centres. The project contributed to the UK-led response in Sierra Leone by training NHS volunteers and Danish, Norwegian, and South Korean foreign medical teams to function as effectively and safely as possible in the environment of the Ebola Treatment Centres (ETCs) run by Save the Children, International Medical Corps, Médecins du Monde, GOAL, and Emergency.
The intensive five-day course took a holistic approach to preparing participants for their deployment. By the end of the course, participants would be able to:
1. Explain their role within the broader Ebola crisis response and list behaviours which are likely to increase effective deployment
2. Adopt safe behaviours to work efficiently in a well-designed Ebola Treatment Centre including working safely with PPE
3. Describe the characteristics of Ebola and protocols for management of the disease
4. Describe the psychological impact of Ebola on patients, families and communities and employ empathetic work and communication methods
5. Consider the Ebola crisis in a humanitarian context and explain the importance of applying humanitarian principles during their deployment
6. Recognise their own concerns about deployment, stress warning signs and methods to increase and demonstrate resilience throughout deployment
The training included sessions on essential medical topics such as Ebola symptoms and characteristics, triage, and medical case management, but also integrated topics necessary for Health Care Workers deploying to this humanitarian response such as humanitarian principles, safety and security, protection and vulnerability, awareness of the cultural context in Sierra Leone, and stress and resilience.
The course agenda and content were developed in collaboration with a number of organisations with experience and expertise in the response. External resources the course drew on included partnerships with InterHealth, the Sierra Leonean Diaspora Group, and the Anthropology Platform. UK Med and representatives of the deploying NGOs were also present at each event.
The methodology used was informed by adult learning principles and current best practice in learning and development. Daily practical sessions enabled participants to practise key skills and tasks while wearing personal protective equipment. The course benefitted from specialist knowledge through the use of expert-delivered sessions and carefully composed training teams.
Each team was led by a RedR Associate Trainer with extensive experience in humanitarian training, who worked alongside one Infection Prevention and Control/Logistics specialist and one or two clinicians, each with experience from the response in West Africa. A key strength of the project was the use of returning participants as resource persons and trainers on later iterations of the course, bringing direct and recent experience from the field into the training room.
In total, 16 five-day courses were delivered between December 2014 and April 2015. 362 individuals were trained, of whom 95% rated the course as good or excellent, and 98% agreed or strongly agreed they were better prepared for their deployment following the training.
In September 2015, 11 NHS volunteers were retrained on a two-day refresher training in order to remain on standby for deployment to the end of November 2015. 100% of the participants rated the refresher training as good or excellent.
One trainee commented, "The training’s been extensive and thorough. I value its wide approach, the PPE focus, the realities of treatment centres, the practical tasks we’ll all be expected to do. At the same time, it’s good that the training also deals with psycho-social concerns, with our motivations, and the inclusion of cultural sessions, which help us get an idea of what to expect in Sierra Leone. I really appreciate its breadth."
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