SUAKOKO, Liberia—”It becomes day-to-day life. You get into your PPE [personal protective equipment] and you go in every day and you feel safe,” explains Audrey Rangel -- a nurse at the Bong County Ebola treatment unit run by International Medical Corps with support and funding from USAID.
Before landing at Roberts International Airport in Monrovia on September 8, Audrey worked on a maternal, child health and nutrition program in Timor Leste. “I always wanted to do disaster relief work. The crisis started to take off. It was in the news a lot. People were talking about it. So I went online. I saw a position for an Ebola response nurse. To me it was just the right time. The description just kind of fit me. I was speaking with my husband and I was saying I can’t not do this. I can’t not do this…. They need people. There was an actual need for me. And I just kind of felt like the description was made for me. It was just perfect. I had to do it.”
The Bong County Ebola treatment unit where Audrey was stationed is a four hour bumpy journey from Monrovia. Bong has some of the highest rates of infection after Lofa and Montserrado Counties. Their two ambulances drive for hours every day to pick-up patients in remote locations like Bong Mines where they picked-up 18-year-old Cephas after his father carried him on his back for an hour to a location where the ambulance could reach him.
Audrey’s days are spent on the front lines of the Ebola response, suiting up in protective gear and caring for patients like Cephas. Even as she roots for survivors, she admits that it’s easy to get attached to her patients: “For some reason you’re sad to see them go.”
“It’s turned out to be an amazing, amazing experience. I wouldn’t take it back for anything. I guess you can say it exceeded my non-expectations,” says Audrey.
To learn how qualified medical professionals can join the fight against Ebola, visit: www.usaid.gov/ebola/volunteers.