JBLM To House Troops Returning From Fighting Ebola
Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle is one of five bases nationwide that will keep troops returning from West Africa in a controlled monitoring environment for 21 days after they return.
The Pentagon plans to deploy 3,000 troops, for Operation United Assistance. Military leaders at JBLM expect to eventually house about a thousand troops in World War II barracks.
At a town hall meeting at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Wednesday, officials heard just one concern.
Returning troops will be monitored by medical workers twice daily for signs of the virus. If they begin to show symptoms, they’ll be sent to Madigan Army Medical Center for additional monitoring.
Lieutenant Colonel Rodd Marcum, chief of preventable medicine at Madigan says most service members providing support in West Africa are working in a controlled environment and are at minimal risk for exposure.
“This is really out of an abundance of caution. And it’s important that people understand that that’s the case,” Marcum said.
About 15 Air Force reservists from JBLM deployed over the weekend. Members of the 446 Airlift Wing left for Senegal to help unload cargo planes.
They're scheduled to return in May.
Marcum told the crowd that health care workers and support staff have already undergone training for dealing with a potential case.
More than a hundred of people turned out for the meeting. But only one – a JBLM maintenance worker -- stood up with a concern. He wanted to know what would happen if the barracks need maintenance while the troops are isolated there.
Military leaders said those protocols are still being worked out, but the maintenance likely would be put on hold.
After the meeting, Marcum said he was encouraged that he didn’t hear more concerns from the crowd.
“I hope it represents the fact that people are educating themselves and also using what we’ve provided through social media and other town hall venues," Marcum said.
Wednesday’s town hall was the first of four that are scheduled at JBLM this week.
Meeting times and locations:
• Thursday; Nov. 13, 1 p.m. at McChord Theater (Barnes Blvd., McChord Field)
• Thursday; Nov. 13, 6 p.m. at French Theater (Pendleton Ave., Lewis Main)
• Friday; Nov. 14, 1 p.m. at French Theater (Pendleton Ave., Lewis Main)
Watch the town hall via live stream.