Ebola response Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Date / Period
West Africa
Object Type
Medical Equipment
Disaster Management

“I’ve learned that tears fog up my goggles,” wrote Patrice Gordon from the Red Cross Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC) in Kenema, Sierra Leone in 2014. 

Daily, through those goggles, the B.C. nurse practitioner and Canadian Red Cross aid worker witnessed the impact an unprecedented Ebola outbreak had on the people of West Africa. Gordon described a six-year-old patient who arrived at the treatment centre in an ambulance full of suspected Ebola cases. The child had no contact information; the staff didn’t even know her name. The child died the following day holding the hand of a Red Cross nurse who was dressed in full Personal Protective Equipment like this one.

“I’m so thankful she wasn’t alone,” Gordon wrote. 

The first cases of the Ebola Virus Disease confirmed in Guinea in March 2014 were the start of the largest Ebola outbreak in history, both in terms of number of people affected and geographical spread. This resulted in one of the most challenging global public health disasters in recent times.

National Red Cross Societies in affected countries – Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea – led the response alongside national health systems with support from many partner National Societies such as the Canadian Red Cross. This response included active surveillance, education and social mobilization, contact tracing, psychosocial support, safe and dignified burials and clinical management.

“The sustaining reality is that there is hope.”

Along with human resources, the Canadian Red Cross assisted the Red Cross Movement in the deployment of material resources to establish the Ebola Treatment Centre, in Sierra Leone where Gordon shed tears of sorrow as well as tears of joy.

“The sustaining reality is that there is hope,” Gordon wrote in December 2014. “From inside the high-risk area, patients and staff can look across the fences to three large dome tents called the Hotel of Hope. When someone recovers from Ebola, they have a ‘happy shower’ – a chlorinated shower – then walk over to the Hotel of Hope, as we all cheer, hoot, clap and shed tears of joy.”

Gordon was humbled to hear that TIME magazine named Ebola responders their “Person of the Year” while she was at the ETC. Different versions of the magazine cover showed five different “Ebola Fighters”  – one of them looking out through the goggles of their PPE. The magazine awarded Ebola responders the honour “For tireless acts of courage and mercy, for buying the world time to boost its defenses, for risking, for persisting, for sacrificing and saving.”

On December 29, 2015 the World Health Organization declared the end of Ebola transmission in Guinea – where the first case of the deadly disease was confirmed in March 2014.

Of more than 28,600 suspected or confirmed cases worldwide, all but 35 were confined to three countries; Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. With more than 11,300 deaths, it was the deadliest outbreak of the virus in recorded history.

Ebola response Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

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