Sens. Warner, Kaine urge federal Ebola coordinator to synchronize state, local response plans

ebola4U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine called on the federal Ebola response coordinator to act quickly to synchronize local, state and federal efforts to respond to the Ebola emergency.

Virginia’s Dulles International Airport has been designated one of five national gateways for inbound flights from West Africa, and Senators Warner and Kaine urged federal Ebola response coordinator Ron Klain to leverage Dulles’ proximity to Washington, D.C. to ensure effective and appropriate  interagency coordination to protect Virginians against the risk of infection from Ebola in the event of an actual emergency.

The Senators, both of whom managed a variety of crises and emergencies as Governors of Virginia, recommended the federal government establish clear multi-agency communications and the speedy development of well-understood protocols for synchronized crisis management between federal, state and local public health and safety agencies. Sens. Warner and Kaine said development of a response template should include specific actions to enhance response times, and any potential confusion and miscommunication in an actual emergency. The Senators also requested the federal government sponsor and conduct Ebola response training and drills at Dulles International Airport to develop and disseminate a well-honed response plan which could be shared with the other four gateway airports.

“State and local responders must know exactly who their counterparts and contacts at federal agencies are, and that they are regularly able to exercise this response plan to ensure that everyone knows their role, is well-trained, and that challenges are addressed prior to an actual emergency,” the Senators wrote to federal Ebola Response Coordinator Ron Klain. “Reports indicate that four travelers arriving at Dulles have already been hospitalized as a precaution, and we believe everyone involved in this effort at Dulles deserves the proper training to ensure an adequate and effective response as they continue to address this ongoing issue.”

Additionally, the Senators asked Klain to immediately convene key representatives from federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), andthe Department of Defense (DoD), to brief state and local counterparts and answer questions.

On October 17, Senators Warner and Kaine sent letters to Virginia seeking assurances that Virginia hospitals and health professionals had the supplies, training and information they would need to effectively identify and treat any patients who present symptoms of Ebola. On October 3, Senator Warner sent a letter to the Administration urging more aggressive action in response to the Ebola threat, including enhanced screenings at airports and better collaboration with state and local health departments

A copy of the letter, dated October 23, can be found here.

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