GBAC Trains Journalists in Infection Control

Two-day event covered personal protective equipment and decontamination

December 13, 2019

Journalists writing about infectious diseases now have a better understanding of processes to control the spread of pathogens thanks to a two-day training event completed on December 12 by the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), a division of ISSA. The session was held at ISSA’s Northbrook, Illinois, headquarters for 18 journalists and photojournalists working for the Reuters news organization.

The GBAC Infection Disease Hostile Environment Training (IDHET) covered the history of infectious disease, as well as modes of disease transmission. GBAC professionals demonstrated the proper donning and doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE) that those working in potentially contaminated areas must use. This type of training protects journalists and photographers who cover outbreaks and pandemics.

“These professionals are amazing,” said Patricia Olinger, executive director of GBAC, who led the training session along with GBAC board member Dr. Gavin Macgregor-Skinner. “They bring the news and stories to us. They give us the details, in writing and in digital format, of what is happening in the world. To do this, they run towards events, sometimes deadly events, not away from them.”

Previously, Reuters journalists underwent infection control training in England, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Senegal.

“They value this type of training because they have a passion to cover the news, but they want to do it both safely and responsibly,” Olinger said. What we teach them—and especially with the heavy hands-on component of the session—keeps them as safe as possible.”

Besides learning how to protect themselves with PPE, Reuters journalists waded into the details of decontamination methods, in the event they are exposed to potentially lethal infectious contaminants. At the end of the two-day training, participants received a GBAC IDHET Certificate.

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