US government contract for ambulance transport of Ebola and highly infectious disease patients?
The Ebola crisis has not faded despite mainstream and most alternative media wishfully claiming the virus no longer poses a global threat.
Last week, a contract opportunity was posted for the ground transportation of ‘highly infectious disease patients’ which includes Ebola. Examining the details suggests that the primary concern is in fact Ebola as the Statement of Work reads “Emergency Ebola Ambulance SOW” at the top.
The purpose of this requirement is to obtain medical transport resources and capabilities as needed to safely and efficiently provide ambulance transportation of patients with highly infectious diseases including, but not limited to Ebola. The domestic response to Ebola will involve the medical transportation (by ambulance) of patients between health care facilities, from an airport to a hospital, and from home-based active monitoring to hospitals.
The contract may be used to augment local transport limited capabilities. The jurisdiction or facility arranging the transportation of an Ebola or highly infectious patient shall make every reasonable effort to use appropriate local private and /or municipal assets prior to the use of this federal contract mechanism.
The solicitation calls for nation-wide presence of on-call ambulance services to be performed across the contiguous 48 states within 6 hours of the request.
In addition to appropriate staffing, the provider must offer Advanced Life Support (ALS), Basic Life Support (BLS), and Specialty Care Transport. Capability of providing a call center and computer aided dispatch is listed as a requirement. The contract also has options for 2 additional years.
If the Ebola virus is contained, why the need for this contract?
In the weeks leading up to the US election, coordinated efforts began by media outlets to minimize reports of possible cases at the request of the White House. Conflicting explanations of the suggested policy has led to some confusion as seen in this Forbes article.
**CORRECTION: This piece originally and inadvertently suggested that The Associated Press and other news organizations were in agreement “not to report on suspected cases of Ebola in the United States until a positive viral RNA test is completed.” I regret this misinterpretation. In fact, AP is in no agreement with other outlets regarding news coverage. AP’s own position is that it will still report some suspected cases of Ebola if they cause enough disruption, even if there’s no confirmation the person has Ebola.
To be fully clear, I am providing both the link to the October 17 AP advisory and the full text of the advisory, as follows:
We’re increasingly hearing reports of “suspected” cases of Ebola in the United States and Europe. The AP has exercised caution in reporting these cases and will continue to do so.
Most of these suspected cases turn out to be negative. Our bureaus monitor them, but we have not been moving stories or imagery simply because a doctor suspects Ebola and routine precautions are taken while the patient is tested. To report such a case, we look for a solid source saying Ebola is suspected and some sense the case has caused serious disruption or reaction. Are buildings being closed and substantial numbers of people being evacuated or isolated? Is a plane being diverted? Is the suspected case closely related to another, confirmed Ebola case?
When we do report a suspected case, we will seek to keep our stories brief and in perspective.