Spokane Participates in Federal Ebola Exercise

Apr 11, 2018

Health workers help a mock ebola "patient" off a plane at Spokane International Airport as part of Wednesday's exercise.
Credit Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Emergency medical training happens all the time in our area, but an event today (Wednesday) was unusual. It involved a big plane and a big disease, the Ebola virus.

This medical exercise started Wednesday morning in Boise, where a 747 took off, headed for Spokane. It was carrying a staff of medical professionals and four patients pretending to have the Ebola virus.

When it landed, the nose of the plane opened up and workers wearing special protective gear wheeled a gurney with a similarly gowned up patient out to a lift. From there, they were lowered to the ground and a medical worker walked with the patient to a waiting ambulance, which took them to Sacred Heart. The hospital is one of 10 in the nation designated by the federal government as a regional treatment center for people with deadly and transmissible diseases. The other two patients were to be flown to Los Angeles later in the afternoon.

The big jet is operated by Phoenix Air, which bills itself as the only company in the world capable of transporting highly infectious patients in an intensive care unit environment.

Before leaving, the plane sat on the tarmac for a couple of hours so that local leaders, from the mayor to the regional health officer to Fairchild Air Force Base health workers, could tour the state-of-the-art plane.