Deployment of the 1st Area Medical Laboratory in a Split-Based Configuration During the Largest Ebola Outbreak in History.

Authors:
Anthony P Cardile
Anthony P Cardile
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
United States
Christopher T Littell
Christopher T Littell
Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason
United States
Michael G Backlund
Michael G Backlund
Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
Richard A Heipertz
Richard A Heipertz
The Penn State College of Medicine
United States
Jerod A Brammer
Jerod A Brammer
1st Area Medical Laboratory Building 5116
Sean M Palmer
Sean M Palmer
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
United States
Todd J Vento
Todd J Vento
San Antonio Military Medical Center
Felix A Ortiz
Felix A Ortiz
1st Area Medical Laboratory Building 5116

Mil Med 2016 11;181(11):e1675-e1684

1st Area Medical Laboratory Building 5116, Bel Air Street, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21005.

Background: The U.S. Army 1 Area Medical Laboratory (1 AML) is currently the only deployable medical CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives) laboratory in the Army's Forces Command. In support of the United States Agency for International Development Ebola response, the U.S. military initiated Operation United Assistance (OUA), and deployed approximately 2,500 service members to support the Government of Liberia's Ebola control efforts. Due to its unique molecular diagnostic and expeditionary capabilities, the 1 AML was ordered to deploy in October of 2014 in support of OUA via establishment of Ebola testing laboratories. To meet the unique mission requirements of OUA, the unit was re-organized to operate in a split-based configuration and sustain four separate Ebola testing laboratories.

Methods: This article is a review of the 1 AML's OUA participation in a split-based configuration. Topics highlighted include pre-deployment planning/training, operational/logistical considerations in fielding/withdrawing laboratories, laboratory testing results, disease and non-battle injuries, and lessons learned.

Findings: Fielding the 1 AML in a split-based configuration required careful pre-deployment planning, additional training, optimal use of personnel, and the acquisition of additional laboratory equipment. Challenges in establishing and sustaining remote laboratories in Liberia included: difficulties in transportation of equipment due to poor road infrastructure, heavy equipment unloading, and equipment damage during transit. Between November 26, 2014 and February 18, 2015 the four 1 AML labs successfully tested blood samples from patients and oral swabs collected by burial teams in rural Liberia. The most significant equipment malfunction during laboratory operations was generators powering the labs, with the same problem impacting headquarters. Generator failures delayed laboratory operations/result reporting, and put temperature sensitive reagents at risk. None of the 22 1 AML soldiers (at remote labs or headquarters) had an Ebola exposure, none were infected with malaria or other tropical diseases, and none required evacuation from the time deployed to remote sites. The primary medical condition encountered was acute gastroenteritis, and within the first week of arrival to Liberia, 19 (86%) soldiers were affected.

Discussion/impact/recommendations: With proper planning and training, the 1 AML can successfully conduct split-based operations in an outbreak setting, and this capability can be utilized in future operations. The performance of the 1 AML during the current Ebola outbreak highlights the value of this asset, and the need to continue its evolution to support U.S. military operations.

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Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.7205/MILMED-D-15-00484DOI Listing
November 2016
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