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Denver Area Medical Staff Training For Potential Ebola Encounters

DENVER (CBS4) - Doctors, nurses and other health workers are spending days learning how to protect themselves against contracting the Ebola virus, should it be diagnosed in Colorado.

"All of our paramedics realize there's an inherent risk," said Scott Bookman, a Denver paramedic who is training this week on how to care for a patient.

Their protection includes eye guards, face masks and fluid-impermeable gowns.

West Metro Fire also has protective gear on all paramedic units, and 911 operators will now ask where patients have traveled in recent weeks before dispatching a crew.

Ebola has killed more than 4,000 people in west Africa and has been diagnosed in two people in the United States, both nurses. Experts maintain, however, that the virus isn't highly contagious and unlikely to be transmitted via strangers.

At the VA medical center in Denver, two full-time staff members are now devoted to preparing for a potential Ebola patient.

"Their full-time job is emergency readiness," Daniel Warvi, a spokesman for the VA center, said. "We understand our veterans are more likely to travel than other patients."

They also have more elaborate protective suits than many other hospitals in town.

Dr. Mary Bessesen, of the VA medical center, said the facility will also have powered air purifiers for each staff member working with an Ebola patient.

Most facilities are asking for volunteers from their medical staff to treat someone with Ebola.

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