JBLM joins in fight against Ebola in West Africa
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD — JBLM’s Air Force Reserves 446th Airlift Wing is taking part in supply operations to West Africa in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus.
One of the first crews in the C-17 Globemasters to land in Liberia brought in supplies to help establish a base of operation. Capt. Franklin Sevey piloted the C-17.
“We were bringing in an initial airfield evaluation team and they evaluated the airfield for future missions bringing in cargo,” Sevey said.
The West African nation of Liberia is one of the hardest hit by the Ebola virus. More than 2,000 people have died so far. So when reservists were given the order to fly there, crews took some precautions.
“We did our best to maintain a distance, there was very limited personnel there to start with, maintain a space barrier, keep your hands clean,” Staff Sgt. Michael Solin said.
Crews experienced a bit a of a learning curve in dealing with a situation like an Ebola outbreak. They were given a check list to run through to make sure none of the reservists was infected.
"We do ask the crews when they come back to check their temperature once or twice a day until they reach the 21-day mark after they've been country," Col. Bruce Neely said.
Neely's job is to evaluate the crews and to check "if they had any known Ebola patients they were in contact with. Contact is direct contact with either the person or the person's bodily fluids or somebody who may have just had a fever or just didn't look well," Neely added.
The crews never came in contact with any Ebola patients and only spent around three hours on the ground in Liberia. Crews could be returning as early as November to bring medical supplies, beds and food.