Firefighters prepare for contact with potential Ebola patients

(WISH Photo, file/Eric Halvorson)

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — Firefighters in Carmel are suiting up for the chance they might make contact with an Ebola patient.

Dozens of them were trained Tuesday on how to put on and take off protective suits at Station 41 near 136th & Springmill Road.

Firefighters are used to wearing suits to protect them from flames and smoke, but these “level B” HAZMAT suits are used to situations like chemicals spills or in this case, Ebola virus concerns.

“If we come down with a particular disease and we’re not protected, then how can we help the people around us,” asked Bruce Knott, CFD fire marshal.

The fire fighters have been trained on how to wear the suits before, but CFD felt it was necessary to do a refresher course.

“Fortunately for us and fire departments all across the United States, the hazardous materials training that we’ve had in the past, these level of suits, this level of protection is not something that’s new to us,” said Knott. “It’s just this is what it equals to deal with the current Ebola.”

The gear has two layers and is sealed with tape. It includes two sets of gloves and a breathing mask.

During a full scale drill, every fire fighter in the station would be wearing the suits but only one person wore it during today’s demonstration.

There would also be decontamination stations so they would clean the gear before removing it, a process that’s just as important and putting the suit on.

“You don’t always know or not you’ve been contaminated. So this is preventing contamination,” said Knott.

All the fire departments are equipped with the special suits, but more have been ordered due to the Ebola concern.

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